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Joonas Donskoi of Sharks already playoff-tested

Forward eager to provide more postseason heroics for San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had lost the first two games in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The series moved to SAP Center for Game 3 -- the first-ever Final home game for San Jose -- and the Sharks and Penguins were tied 2-2 after three periods, headed to overtime.

That's when forward Joonas Donskoi scored one of the biggest goals in Sharks history, as a rookie no less.

Donskoi took the puck behind the net to the left circle, spun and buried a shot into the upper right corner of the net at 12:18, giving San Jose its first Final victory. He became the sixth rookie in NHL history to score a game-winner in OT in the Final.


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"Guys want to raise their game in the playoffs, and he's a big-time player," Sharks center Chris Tierney said of Donskoi. "He shows up in the big games. He wants to win really badly. I expect to see nothing less than the same kind of game he brought last year in the playoffs."

Donskoi had 12 points (six goals, including two game-winners, six assists) in 24 playoff games last season, his first in the NHL after playing six seasons for Karpat in the Finnish Hockey League, where he won two championships.

The Sharks, who lost to Pittsburgh in six games, earned a playoff berth again this year, despite a late-season slump. They'll need depth scoring to make another long playoff run, and Donskoi, 24, hopes to provide that again after an injury-plagued regular season.

Video: MIN@SJS: Donskoi goes bar-down to open scoring

"We need four lines for sure," Donskoi said. "That was our key last season too. We need to get our four lines going. I haven't been so good as I can be. That's why I want to improve my game and I know I can be better. That's all I'm focusing on."

Donskoi missed 19 games with a shoulder injury and had 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) for San Jose in the regular season. But his shoulder improved down the stretch, and so did his play.

"I'm feeling better every game," he said.

Last year, Donskoi had two goals, including the game-winner, when San Jose defeated the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 in Game 5 to win their Western Conference First Round series.

"A lot of good memories," Donskoi said. "I think we were playing real well last year in the playoffs. A lot of the same guys here in the locker room. We know the potential of this team and we can go as far as we want. We just have to stick together and get our game going."

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