The Sharks finally secured their first lead of the Stanley Cup Final, and it came just in time.
In serious danger of going down three-games-to-none against Pittsburgh, Joonas Donskoi scored at 12:18 of overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win in Game 3. San Jose had not enjoyed a lead in any of the three games up to that point.
The Sharks trailed 2-1 entering the third, but got the tying goal from Joel Ward. Just as a double-minor to Nick Bonino for high-sticking was about to expire, Ward powered a slap shot through Matt Murray at 8:48.
In overtime, Donskoi skated around the net, turned around and fired it high over Murray to get the Sharks back into the series in what was the first ever Stanley Cup final game in San Jose.
The win was the Sharks’ first in overtime this postseason against four losses, including Game 2 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Game 4 is on Monday at SAP Center.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring on a Ben Lovejoy point shot that glanced in off of Roman Polak at 5:29. The play began with some nervous moments by Martin Jones playing the puck, only to have it taken away by Matt Cullen before it ended up on Lovejoy’s stick.
The Sharks responded on a Justin Braun goal, when the defenseman hummed in a wrist shot from the high slot at 9:34 that Martin never picked up.
San Jose outplayed Pittsburgh in the second period, but it was the Penguins grabbing the lead back before the intermission. Brent Burns caved to the forecheck this time with a pair of soft plays, and the result was Patric Hornqvist deflecting in a Lovejoy shot at 19:07.
Donskoi had a wonderful chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but lifted his shot on a clean look in front over the net. San Jose outshot the Penguins in the middle frame, 9-6.
The Sharks played without forward Tomas Hertl due to a lower body injury. It was just the second game Hertl missed this season, and first of the playoffs.
Pittsburgh outshot the Sharks for the game, 42-26, the 12th straight playoff game it has had more shots than its opponent. The Pens also blocked 38 shots, including 12 on Burns alone.
The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, as Bonino was exiting the box the second that Ward scored. San Jose had just three total power plays through the first two games, and is 2-for-6 in the series.
Pittsburgh is still looking for its first power play goal in the series. It went 0-for-1 in Game 3, and is 0-for-6 overall.
Jones made 40 saves to improve to 13-8 in the playoffs.
Murray, who had allowed just six total goals in his previous four starts, took the loss with three goals allowed on 26 shots. He’s 13-5 in the postseason.
Dainius Zubrus, a healthy scratch in Game 2, returned in place of Hertl, while Melker Karlsson slotted onto the top line left wing for most of the night.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski continues to be held at bay, as he’s still looking for his first point in the series.
The Sharks are 3-9 all-time when trailing a playoff series two-games-to-one.