This has been a difficult time for Justin Braun and his family.
While playing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic and tasked with trying to contain Sidney Crosby in the Stanley Cup Final, Braun has been playing this series with a heavy heart after losing his father-in-law Tom Lysiak, a former NHLers, to leukemia last week.
Braun found out that his father-in-law died the morning of Game 1. It devastated him that he couldn’t be there for his wife, an accomplished chef whom he met on a blind date. After the Sharks lost Game 1, Braun was hard on himself and said he needed to do a better job focusing after playing a part in Pittsburgh’s first two goals.
“When you’re out there on the ice, you want to pretty much shut your brain off and just play,” Braun said. “When there are other things creeping in, that’s when you’re going to be a little slow on plays and making reads.”
In Game 3, which the Sharks won in overtime to earn their first victory of the series, Crosby was held off the score sheet, playing the majority of the game five-on-five against Braun and Vlasic.
Adding to the success of keeping Crosby mostly in check — at least on the score board — with Vlasic, Braun scored once again to earn a first in his NHL career.
The fact Braun is playing and playing well under such difficult circumstances isn’t lost on his coach.
“I thought he was excellent last night. With what he’s dealt with, I don’t know if you can understand the emotion of kind of the last week for him, last couple weeks. He’s known this day was coming,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer told reporters.
“For him to play through and do what he’s done for us, I can’t say enough about that. I know his teammates appreciate it. He’s one of those quiet guys that just shows up every day and punches in, does his job. Really we wouldn’t be here without him either. He’s been exceptional. I think him and Vlasic are a great combination together. I thought they were outstanding last night.”