SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic went into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final hoping to be on the ice against Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby as often as possible.
Vlasic got his wish. He and defense partner Justin Braun delivered an excellent performance in San Jose's 3-2 overtime win at SAP Center on Saturday, a victory that cut the Sharks' deficit in the best-of-7 series to 2-1.
Crosby played 13:03 of his 18:00 even strength minutes against Vlasic, according to War-on-Ice.com. The only Sharks' player who played more at even strength against Crosby was Braun, who was on the ice for 13:41 against the Penguins' captain.
The Penguins were plus-7 in 5-on-5 shot attempts when Crosby skated against Vlasic (16-9) and plus-4 (16-12) when Braun was out against Crosby, but they combined to hold Crosby to three shots on goal and six total attempts.
Two of Crosby's shots on goal and three of his six shot attempts came in overtime before Joonas Donskoi won it for the Sharks at 12:18.
"I thought Vlasic and Braun -- and you have to mention Braun when you mention Vlasic, too -- I thought those two were excellent for us tonight, both ends of the rink," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "[Braun] got a goal defending, playing big minutes. They were fantastic."
Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Braun wrists one past Murray
Here is a look at the in-game head-to-head stats matchup between Crosby vs. Vlasic/Braun:
Goals: Crosby 0; Vlasic/Braun 1
Assists: Crosby 0; Vlasic/Braun 1
Points: Crosby 0; Vlasic/Braun 2
Ice time: Crosby 20:03; Vlasic 25:15/Braun 22:59
Key intangible stat: Crosby won 13 of his 26 faceoffs. Vlasic's had four hits and three blocked shots. Braun had three shots, seven total attempts and five blocks.
Best moment: A picture of Vlasic's defense on Crosby came late in the first period. The Penguins finally had the puck after the Sharks' controlled possession for approximately nine minutes after Braun scored to tie the game at 1-1. Crosby was trying to keep it down low, behind the net, so the Penguins could get a cycle going. Vlasic had other ideas. He cut off Crosby behind the net, forcing him to lose the puck toward the corner with 1:40 remaining. The Sharks got the puck back and went the other way. The puck was still in Crosby's possession when Vlasic cut him off, which is why there was no interference called.
But Crosby got a small measure of revenge by contributing, albeit not on the scoresheet, on Patric Hornqvist's go-ahead goal at 19:07 of the second period. Crosby had the initial forecheck on Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, forcing him to move the puck around the boards to the Penguins' strong side, where they had better numbers. San Jose defenseman Brent Burns got it, but he couldn't connect on a pass to forward Joe Thornton. The puck caromed out to Crosby, who whiffed on a shot. But Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta got to the loose puck first and moved it across to fellow defenseman Ben Lovejoy, whose shot from the right point was deflected in front by Hornqvist for the goal.
Vlasic was credited with an assist on Braun's goal at 9:34 of the first period. He made a smart pinch down the left-wing wall and forced the puck away from Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl. Thornton got to it and moved it across the zone to Braun, whose shot through traffic from the top of the zone sailed over goalie Matt Murray's stoic glove.
Series stat line (goals-assists-points): Crosby 0-2-2; Vlasic 0-1-1, Braun 2-0-2