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Young Sharks forwards glad for taste of playoffs

Donskoi, Karlsson, Tierney will carry experience into second round

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Experience is huge in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, even if it's just one series.

San Jose Sharks forwards Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney hope to benefit from having made their playoff debuts during a five-game victory against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference First Round.

"I think you can settle in now," Tierney said after practice Tuesday. "You got a taste of a little bit of everything there. Lead changes, big leads, having to come back, having to battle back and get a lead, losing in overtime and trying to bounce back the next game.

"You kind of experience everything in that first series. They're a great team. It was a big test and a big challenge for our guys, but it's kind of nice to have that first-round experience. Try to use that to get ready for the second one."

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm5: Donskoi nets his second for the lead

The Sharks will play the winner of the first-round series between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators, which is tied 3-3 with Game 7 at Honda Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET: NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-W, FS-TN).

Tierney, Donskoi and Karlsson were in the Sharks lineup for all five games against Los Angeles. Tierney centered the fourth line; Donskoi skated on the second line and Karlsson on the third.

All three scored his first playoff goal during San Jose's 6-3 series-clinching win Friday at Staples Center.

Donskoi gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 1:08 into the first period, then scored the game-winner at 3:58 of the third. Tierney scored a first-period goal that gave San Jose a 2-0 lead, and Karlsson scored into an empty net with 22 seconds left.

Video: LAK@SJS: Karlsson pads lead late on Wingels' dish

"It always gives you confidence," Donskoi said of scoring. "Now that the first one is scored, you don't have to think about it anymore. I think my best game is still playing two ways. Skate hard. That's what I try to give the team every night."

Karlsson had playoff experience in Sweden's top professional league before signing with the Sharks in 2014, and Donskoi was the playoff MVP last year with Karpat in Finland's top league before he joined the Sharks as a free agent. They had postseason experience, just not in the NHL.

"You just have to be smart with the puck," Donskoi said. "Small rink. You turn the puck over in the neutral zone it's right away a good opportunity for the other team. You kind of lose the momentum. You just have to stick the pucks behind the [defensemen] and get the game going with the forecheck hard."

Karlsson, a fast skater and puck hound, said he loved the physical nature of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm5: Tierney's wrister increases early lead

"I like taking hits and giving hits," he said. "I'll take a hit to make a play. If you do that, the team gets energy too, just because you take the hit and make a play. I think that's so important."

Tierney played 43 games as a rookie for the Sharks last season, but San Jose missed the playoffs.

"Some emotional games out there, and there's a lot of energy in both of the buildings," Tierney said. "It was a lot of fun."

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