Donskoi’s late goal lifts Sharks over Flames
CALGARY, Alberta -- Joonas Donskoi made the most of his return to the lineup after missing the past six games with a lower-body injury.
Donskoi scored at 17:12 of the third period to lead his San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.
“I thought he was awesome,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “He was on the puck all night, hounding it, carrying it, making plays. I thought he was one of our better players.”
Donskoi, who also had a first-period assist, drove hard to the net to poke a loose puck through Calgary goaltender Mike Smith’s legs to give San Jose the victory.
”The puck was loose behind Smith. It was the kind of goal we needed at that point,“ said Donskoi, while adding he felt better as the game progressed. ”It was hard, to be honest, at the beginning. It’s never easy to come back after you’ve been out for a while. I think I felt better as the game went along.
“No matter how hard you practice, it’s different to play a game. I‘m super excited to be back. It was hard to be out.”
Donskoi played on a line with Chris Tierney and Timo Meier, who chipped in with a goal and an assist apiece for the Sharks (17-10-3).
“He creates a lot of offense out there and he’s scoring a lot of goals and big-time goals for us,” Tierney said of Donskoi. “It’s huge to have him out there and he adds a lot of depth to our team.”
Michael Frolik and Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Flames (16-13-3), who had gone 2-0-2 in their previous four games.
”We gave up a late one,“ Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. ”There’s not much more to the game than that. It’s a pretty even game.
“They get a rush and nobody knew it was just sitting there in the crease. Tough one to lose a game on.”
San Jose’s Aaron Dell stopped 32 shots, while Smith finished with 26 saves.
“The last goal, it’s got to be stopped,” Smith said. “It’s a stoppable puck, a controllable puck, so it’s on me. I had no idea where the puck was. I just tried to stay still and hope it was under me somewhere.”
On his first shift, Troy Brouwer had a great chance for the Flames, but his shot from the slot went just wide.
Joe Thornton found himself alone in front of the Calgary net a short time later, but he wasn’t able to jam the puck past Smith.
Frolik opened the scoring at 4:42 of the first period when he intercepted Tim Heed’s clearing attempt before wristing a shot through Dell’s legs.
The Sharks tied it 3:53 before the first intermission on Meier’s fourth goal of the year. Smith did a nice job to poke check the puck off Tierney’s stick but it went right to Meier, who quickly swatted a shot into the Calgary net.
The Flames had a two-man advantage for 37 seconds early in the middle frame, but weren’t able to capitalize on the opportunity.
Frolik had another great chance at 6:30 of the second. After a failed wraparound attempt by Matthew Tkachuk, the puck lay in the crease for several seconds, but Frolik wasn’t able to poke it past Dell.
Tierney gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead 10 minutes into the second when he slipped a shot from the slot through Smith’s legs during a San Jose man advantage.
“For whatever reason, it felt like we were losing a lot of puck battles, especially in the middle period there,” Giordano said. “I thought in the third period our mindset got way better.”
Calgary pulled back into a 2-2 tie when Gaudreau scored at 7:39 of the third. Gaudreau swatted a pass from Garnet Hathaway just under the arm of a diving Dell for his 13th goal of the season.
“You’re just trying to look for a spark in the third and I thought we got it,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We should have got points tonight. It was a hard-fought game both ways. They’re a good team.”
NOTES: Flames RW Jaromir Jagr missed his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Calgary’s other scratches were C Freddie Hamilton and D Matt Bartkowski. ... Although the Sharks recalled C Danny O‘Regan from the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda on Tuesday, he was a healthy scratch along with D Paul Martin and D Joakim Ryan. ... The Sharks have recorded points in four straight games (3-0-1). ... C Ryan Carpenter, who was placed on waivers by the Sharks on Tuesday, was claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights the following morning.