Sharks

Instant Replay: Donskoi OT winner saves Sharks in Game 3

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Instant Replay: Donskoi OT winner saves Sharks in Game 3

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE –- 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 expired, 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.

[RELATED: Warriors' Speights, Marshawn support Sharks in Game 3]

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 Murray 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.

Special teams

The Sharks finished 0-for-3 on the power play, as Bonino's penalty expired the second that Ward scored. San Jose had just three total power plays through the first two games, and is 1-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.

In goal

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.

Lineup

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.

Up next

The Sharks are 3-9 all-time when trailing a playoff series two-games-to-one.

Aaron Dell lifts Sharks to big win vs. Canucks, earns another start

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USATSI

Aaron Dell lifts Sharks to big win vs. Canucks, earns another start

SAN JOSE - The Sharks named Aaron Dell the first star on the evening after they defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 at SAP Center on Saturday. Really, it would have been silly to give that first star to anyone else.

But in San Jose's first win with Bob Boughner behind the bench, the 30-year-old backup netminder didn't just keep the team in front of him in the game. He also earned himself his first back-to-back opportunity of his 2019-20 campaign, with Boughner all but confirming after the win that Dell would get the start over Martin Jones when the Sharks host the Coyotes on Tuesday.

Earlier in the season, Jones might have gotten the nod to start Tuesday's game regardless of how Dell played on Saturday. But this is Boughner's team now. And the interim head coach is going to play whoever the hot hand is.

"This is a competition," Boughner told reporters after San Jose's victory over Vancouver. "Both guys are good goalies."

Despite an up-and-down first few months of the season, Dell came up big in his first start of Boughner's tenure. He had a shutout bid going against the Canucks up until 7:57 in the third period. Sure, he let two goals in late, but he also strung together some highlight reel-worthy stops to stymie Vancouver's mounting offensive push. Dell stopped 33 of 35 shots, improving to 18-6-3 in his career when recording 30 or more saves in a contest. Needless to say, the performance added to Dell's glowing resume against the Canucks, who he holds a 6-1-0 all-time record against.

"He was our best player," Boughner said of Dell. "He made some key saves at key times and kept us in it when we were starting to take on water. That's what a goalie does in a win like that" 

Teammate Timo Meier agreed with his new coach

"Definitely wouldn't have been able to win without him," Meier said. "He was really solid in net. He played great for us. He's definitely a huge part of this win. He kept us in the game."

Although Dell will start San Jose's next game, Jones won't be sitting around waiting around for his next start. No. 31 is expected to get some extra practice time in with newly-appointed goalie coach Evgeni Nabokov, which Boughner sees as a big positive for San Jose's goaltending tandem.

"Jones is going to get a chance to work with Nabby for a few days, which is an advantage for us," Boughner said.

As for Dell's next outing, it's anyone's guess how he will play in a second straight start. He's 2-2-0 lifetime in back-to-back starts and, again, hasn't played consecutive games yet this season. If his next start is anything like his start on Saturday night, however, the Sharks should be in a good position to get another win.

Of course, San Jose's success won't start and end with how Dell plays on Tuesday against Arizona. The Sharks might have gotten into the win column on Saturday, but they still have work to do to improve the game -- mainly when it comes to playing tight defense for a full 60 minutes.

[RELATED: How Thornton, Marleay feel about ex-teammates as coaches]

"It's just one game so we've got to string some (wins) together," Marc-Edouard Vlasic said after Saturday's win. "We played better. We stuck more to our system. Turned (the puck) over too many times, but other than that, we played the way we wanted to."

"It's a start," Meier said. "We know there are still a lot of things we need to clean up, but it's a step in the right direction."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE - It wasn't the cleanest game, nor was it the most dominant. And boy, did it get dicey there at the end. But heck, it was a victory all the same for the San Jose Sharks.

For the first time in the month of December, Team Teal (16-17-2) put a notch in the win column, holding on late to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game at SAP Center.

Still in search of that full 60

Perhaps San Jose's biggest issue in their last game was that they didn't put a full effort on the ice for all three periods, thus not being able to hold onto a one-goal lead with 15 minutes left in the game. While they played significantly better on Saturday against the Canucks (16-13-4), there was still some sag in their defense at points during the second and third periods -- especially late in the third period with the game on the line.

San Jose looked its best during Saturday's game when their defense played extra stingy -- pushing Vancouver's offense to the edges and not giving them enough time to get good shots off. Lucky enough for the Sharks' defense, the guy between the pipes was having a heck of a game.

On that note ...

Dell-ightful.

Maybe it was the slick black goalie pads. Or maybe he was just in the zone. Whatever the reason, Aaron Dell put on quite a solid performance in his first start of the Bob Boughner era. Dell was especially good in the second period when Vancouver made a push and pinned San Jose in their own end. His sprawling split save on a Tanner Pearson wrister toward the end of the second stanza was probably his most notable of the night.

The question now is whether Saturday's game earned Dell a second consecutive start in a row. Boughner appears open to the idea of letting both Dell and Martin Jones duke it out for starts. While Dell's shutout bid was snapped in the third period against the Canucks, he certainly made a case for himself starting another game.

The PK prevailed

Yes, the Sharks still need to tighten up for a full 60 minutes. But one area of their game that came up big was the penalty kill. And against the fourth-best power play in the league, that meant a lot for San Jose.

The kill came up huge in the second half of the third period when Kevin Labanc went to the sin bin and the Sharks were clinging to a 2-1 lead. While it is definitely preferable that the Sharks don't take penalties that late in the game when they've had trouble holding onto leads, at least they were able to get the job done.