By: Dana Grey
Game three is in the books as the series starts to heat up.
Saturday night’s first Stanley Cup Final game ever in San Jose did not disappoint. Shark’s fans had been waiting long for the opportunity to see a game of this importance in front of them at the ‘Shark Tank’ and went home happy.
For the third straight game it was the visiting Penguins who scored first and controlled play after puck drop in Game 3. Pittsburgh defenseman scored less than five minutes into the first but San Jose responded well with a goal from a defenseman as well. Justin Braun scored his second goal of these finals to knot the game at 1 heading into the first intermission.
With their backs against the wall down 2-0 in the series, the Sharks came out strong in the second in front of their home crowd. Chance after chance came for the home team, but Penguin’s goaltender Matt Murray stood strong in the crease turning every shot he faced aside. Although being outshot in the period, it was the Pens who scored with 53 seconds left to take the lead. Thanks to a high-slot deflection off the stick of Patrick Hornqvist it was 2-1 Pittsburgh after 2.
5 minutes into the third period, Penguins’ Nick Bonino took a four-minute double minor penalty after high sticking Joe Thornton. It appeared that Pittsburgh would survive the Shark’s power play as they killed 99% of the penalty… but that wasn’t enough. At the final tick of the man advantage, Joel Ward smashed a slap shot past Murray’s reaching glove to tie the contest. The second half of the period showed no goals and the Sharks and Penguins gave us free hockey for the second game in a row.
In the extra frame, San Jose’s desperation was obvious, not wanting to drop further into a 3-0 hole. Sharks fans were able to release a sigh of relief at the 12:18 mark of the first overtime period. After collecting a nice drop pass below the goal line, San Jose right winger Joonas Donskoi wrapped around the net and fired a wrister to the top left of the corner. And just like that, the Sharks were back in the series.
After their first Stanley Cup win in franchise history, the sharks will be hungry for more in Game 4 as they attempt to tie up the series. It seems that the ice has tilted a bit out in California in the favor of the Sharks, as they begin to figure out the speed of the Penguins.
Dana’s Game 4 Prediction: 2-1 Sharks