SAN JOSE, Calif. — The first Stanley Cup final home game in San Jose Sharks history ended in celebration.
Joonas Donskoi scored the Game 3 winner 12:18 into overtime as the Sharks topped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at SAP Center on Saturday night. The goal, which saw Donskoi beat Matt Murray high at a bad angle, gave the Sharks their first lead of the series and first overtime win of the playoffs. They now trail the Penguins 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 ahead on Monday night.
Justin Braun and Joel Ward found the back of the net for San Jose, with Joe Thornton adding two assists. Martin Jones stopped 40-of-42 shots.
Ben Lovejoy and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins, while Murray made 23 saves.
San Jose was greeted by a loud and predictably enthusiastic crowd, mindful of the club's long history without an appearance in the final. Sharks players received a thunderous ovation as they skated through the massive Shark head which adorns their entrance onto the ice and were cheered passionately throughout the evening.
It was the quick-starting Penguins who got on the board first, however, for the third straight game to start the series.
Reacting quickly to a Sharks clearing attempt that caromed off the sideboards, Lovejoy fired a weak slapshot from the right point that appeared to hit the left shinpad of San Jose defenceman Roman Polak before beating Jones.
The dominant first-period team in Games 1 and 2, Pittsburgh again controlled that battle early, landing the first seven shots of Game 3.
San Jose didn't get its first shot on goal until more than eight minutes had passed. The Sharks did, however, even the score at 1-1 just more than four minutes after Lovejoy.
Braun, who scored the game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation in Game 2, got on the board again, his point shot sailing through a maze of traffic to beat Murray. The Penguins rookie goaltender didn't see the shot, only glancing over his left shoulder when the puck was entering the goal.
Braun had only four goals in the regular season and none in the post-season prior to Game 2. He was set up on the play by Thornton, who landed his first point of the series with an assist.
The Sharks fed off the energy of the crowd and controlled play from there, though they were unable to put many shots on Murray. The Penguins blocked 12 attempts in the first frame and 38 overall, curtailing San Jose's engaged efforts.
Shots, in fact, were 12-3 in favour of Pittsburgh at one point late in the period despite the Sharks push.
With control of the matchups on home-ice, San Jose managed to hold Sidney Crosby and the Penguins top line in check during the first 20 minutes. Crosby and linemates, Conor Sheary and Hornqvist, were contained by the Sharks defensive pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Braun, and held without a shot in the opening period.
Hornqvist had the unit's first shot of the game with six minutes left in the second.
San Jose had the bulk of chances in the middle frame, including a Logan Couture shot off the post and an opportunity in tight from the top scorer among defencemen in the playoffs, Brent Burns.
Creeping deep into the Penguins zone, Burns was set up from behind the goal by Melker Karlsson, replacing injured winger Tomas Hertl on San Jose's top line.
The Crosby line broke through in the final minute of the second with Vlasic and Braun on the bench, a crushing blow to the Sharks. After a Burns passing attempt failed to make it to a teammate along the wall, the puck made its way to Lovejoy, who again fired from the point. His shot was redirected into the goal by Hornqvist, his eighth goal of the post-season and first of the series.
San Jose got its best opportunity to tie the game minutes into the third when Thornton was clipped with a high-stick by Nick Bonino, who drew blood and a four-minute penalty.
Murray shined though. A clear chance for Patrick Marleau was denied as was a shot from Thornton and a redirect attempt from Donskoi.
It wasn't until one second remained on the man advantage that Ward's blast beat Murray. The play started when Thornton picked off a Penguins pass in the defensive zone and fed it up ice. Ward took a pass as he entered the Pittsburgh zone, wound up, and snuck it through Murray, who got a piece of the shot but not enough.
The score remained even until overtime with both teams managing opportunities early and often in the extra frame, including a Thornton blast that sailed high and Bonino rebound attempt that trickled wide.
Thornton had at least two more good chances to score, rounding out an impactful Game 3 performance following two quiet games to start the series.
The Sharks still face slim odds. Thirty-three of the 36 teams to win the first two games on home-ice, as the Penguins did, have gone on to capture the Cup.