By Ryan Ward | @RyanJWard
The official NHL Twitter account called it “Possibly the biggest goal in @SanJoseSharks history.” Uh, ya think?
It was fitting that a rookie, Joonas Donskoi, scored the Game 3 winner in OT of the first-ever Stanley Cup Final game at the Shark Tank. And yes, that was undoubtedly the biggest goal in Sharks history. After so many years of playoff letdowns despite a consistent core of All-Star caliber veterans, this year has been different for the Sharks - which they proved again Saturday as they capped off an electric night inside The Tank. San Jose once again played uphill most of the game and had to overcome two one-goal deficits, but they forced extra hockey and ended the most exciting OT period of these 2016 playoffs with a precision goal by Donskoi.
It was another new star - new to the Sharks, anyway - in Joel Ward that tied the score in the 3rd period by willing the puck past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray with a blast from between the circles, giving the fans in attendance, who waited so long for this night, renewed hope that this wasn’t the beginning of the end for the 2016 Sharks.
The OT winner was perhaps a goal of destiny, taken from a near impossible angle by a player the Sharks signed as a free agent last offseason and whose name some more casual fans might not even recognize. But it’s been Donskoi and Ward, the rookie and the veteran, each new to San Jose, who have proven why this isn’t just another Sharks playoff run destined for disappointment. The duo has combined for 13 playoff goals this season, and are demonstrating why it didn’t take a changing of the guard by the Sharks front office for the team to reach this point...they just needed a little fresh blood.