Not Don-skoi yet! Sharks win Game 3 in dramatic OT

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SAN JOSE — The first-ever Stanley Cup Final game in San Jose was one to remember.

Especially for Joonas Donskoi.

Donskoi scored the crucial OT winner on Saturday night, giving the Sharks a 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 3 — and keeping San Jose from falling into the dreaded 0-3 series hole in the process.

The game a dramatic and engaging affair, probably the finest of the series thus far.

And, appropriately, the SAP Center faithful were fired up, kicking off this historic evening with an exceptionally loud pregame ceremony. It led many to believe the Sharks would come out with their collective hair on fire, and roar back into the series.

Just one problem. Didn’t happen.

Pittsburgh was, once again, the better team in the opening frame. Ben Lovejoy‘s point shot went in off Roman Polak‘s leg at the 5:29 mark to give the Pens an early lead, and while San Jose did even things up four minutes later — on Justin Braun‘s second goal in as many games — San Jose still looked the slower team, and finished the period down 14-6 in shots.

The second period was a more balanced frame that saw just one goal, when Patric Hornqvist tipped home a Lovejoy shot to give the Pens a 2-1 lead with under one minute left.

Then, in the third, came a game-chaging moment.

With 15 minute left, Nick Bonino took a double minor after his high stick caught Joe Thornton in the face, drawing blood. For the majority of the ensuring power play, the Sharks were unable to score.

But when they did, it was pandemonium.

Joel Ward hammered a shot on goal just strides over the blueline and, while it certainly had some oomph, it was one Matt Murray should’ve stopped.

That set the stage for overtime, and Doonskoi’s heroics.

Looking ahead, it’ll be fascinating to see what impact this has on the series. Aside from, y’know, winning the first game, the Sharks had other positive signs tonight —  Joe Thornton had a pair of assists, his first points of the series, and Martin Jones continued to provide stellar netminding, making 40 saves on 42 shots.

For the Penguins… well, they had some positives too.

They once again dominated the shots-on-goal battle (42 to 26), though that disparity is tempered by the fact they blocked a staggering 38 shots –which illustrates that San Jose had its fair share of possession.

In the end, though, the x-factor is probably how the Sharks deal with success. Saturday was a night of firsts for the club — first Stanley Cup Final win, first OT win of the postseason (the Sharks had lost all four prior to this).

The men in teal have a taste of success now, and chances are they want some more.

On Monday night, they’ll have another shot.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.