The Penguins came to San Jose up 2 games to none in the series before tonight’s tilt. The Sharks had a lot of work ahead to dig themselves out of the hole that they had created for themselves with two losses.
In another disappointing first period, the Sharks started slow and sluggish, which didn’t give me much hope to start that they would fill in the hole that was left in Pittsburgh. In the first half of the period, the lacklustre Sharks didn’t seem motivated enough to want to win. Luckily, they quickly turned that around. In the last 10 minutes of the period, they went from sluggish to aggressive and then things began to change. Pittsburgh was put to the test but couldn’t stop the newly-ambitious home team. The score was tied 1-1 after a goal by Braun to end the first 20 minutes.
The Sharks continued on their aggressive path towards the cup with a vigor that was unchanging throughout the middle period. They played harder, skated faster, and maintained a focus that I haven’t seen from them since the first round of playoffs. In spite of their grit, they let off the gas in the dying minutes of the second period which led to a Penguins goal to put the visitors up 2-1 after 40 minutes.
But the Sharks bit back in the third with another goal by Ward to tie the game again. And then they fought to the death of regulation time. With overtime looming, both teams looked hungry for the win, but it was San Jose who had the edge to start OT. After all the focus and maintaining their dominance, the Sharks let off again for a moment and Pittsburgh took control. Over halfway through the extra period, San Jose regained control and pace of the game which was when Donskoi became the hero of the night with the winning goal. Final score, 3-2 San Jose. Series total, 2-1 Pittsburgh.
Faceoffs and powerplays were relatively even, but the home team took the lead in hits with 47 to the Penguins measly 17. In the end, it came down to goaltending and Jones was clearly the winner of tonight’s game with a .952 save percentage and 40 saves on 42 shots.
Considering this was San Joses first ever Stanley Cup Final game, I’d say they were victorious in their debut. And I’m looking forward to seeing them kick more Penguins ass in the next game.