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Stanley Cup Final 2016, Game 3 Recap: Back in it

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San Jose picks up its first-ever Stanley Cup Final victory.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks are back in the series after defeating the Penguins 3–2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. While a loss tonight wouldn't have meant elimination, a 3–0 hole in the best-of-seven series would have all but sealed their fate with two of the remaining games on the road. Instead they cut the Penguins' series lead to 2–1 and will have a chance to even the series on Monday night before it returns to Pittsburgh.

San Jose stormed back from 1–0 and 2–1 deficits behind goals by Justin Braun and Joel Ward to set up overtime for the second game in a row.

Pete DeBoer shortened his bench and moved Logan Couture up with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton for overtime, and the new top line immediately rewarded him with a slew of prime scoring chances. But it was Joonas Donskoi who scored the first Stanley Cup Final game-winning goal in Sharks history, beating Matt Murray with a wrist shot at 12:18 of the overtime period.

Ward got the game to overtime with the Sharks' second game-tying goal of the night. After Pittsburgh took a 2–1 lead at the end of a second period dominated by San Jose, the Sharks got a chance to tie the game on a four-minute power play. They did everything but score for the first 3:59, but Ward wouldn't let the opportunity go to waste, beating Murray with a long slap shot fractions of a second before the penalty expired.

Braun, the almost-hero in Game 2, scored the first equalizer after the Penguins once again opened the scoring. Ben Lovejoy gave Pittsburgh the early lead 31 seconds after San Jose killed a high-sticking penalty to Ward with a shot that deflected off of Roman Polak on its way past Martin Jones. Braun tied the game at 1–1 halfway through the first period with a shot from distance that Murray never saw.

Braun's goal at 9:34 was only the second shot and seventh shot attempt of the game for the Sharks, but they settled in and spent the rest of the period in the Penguins zone before beginning the second in a similar fashion.

Brent Burns nearly put the Sharks up 2–1 off a brilliant (#Thorntonian?) between-the-legs pass from Melker Karlsson but couldn't elevate the puck over Murray's right pad, then Ward was stopped on a partial breakaway forty seconds later. Couture followed up those opportunities with a shot off the post, and the rebound went just wide as the Sharks swarmed in front of the net.

Yet despite the Sharks' second period dominance, it was the Penguins who held the lead once again when the buzzer sounded to usher in the second intermission. Patric Hornqvist scored the go-ahead goal on another deflection, tipping Lovejoy's shot past Jones to put Pittsburgh up 2–1.

Donskoi had a golden opportunity to tie it up again with a few seconds left in the period, but his point-blank shot went wide of the net.

Sharks goals (assists): Justin Braun (Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic), Joel Ward (Joonas Donskoi, Joe Thornton), Joonas Donskoi (Chris Tierney)

[Fancy Stats] - [Penguins Reaction] - [TOI Log] - [Event Summary] - [Faceoff Report] - [PBP Log]

Fear the Fin's Three Stars

1) Joonas Donskoi

2) Joe Thornton

3) Joel Ward