The San Jose Sharks, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in the third period, got the power play they so desperately needed midway through the frame. Not only did they get the advantage, they got four minutes with a double minor to Penguins forward Nick Bonino.
Bonino tried to stick check Sharks forward Joe Thornton, but instead his stick deflected off of Thornton's and he ended up clipping the Sharks forward in the face. Thornton ended up getting slightly cut, just enough to bleed. That meant four minutes of power play time. As it would turn out, the Sharks would have to use almost all of the four minutes to get the goal they so desperately needed.
The Sharks couldn't seem to get anything going early on the power play and some solid Penguins penalty killing sure wasn't making it easy. However, when Pittsburgh had a chance to break the other direction, they had mere seconds remaining on the penalty to kill.
Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang darted up the ice with a chance for an odd-man break, however Crosby's hopeful pass to the middle was cut off by Joe Thornton. That set off a rush going the other way as Thornton sent the puck over to Joonas Donskoi. The puck then found Joel Ward who let a shot go from the top of the point.
The puck flew past the out-stretched sticks of the Penguins defenders and snuck past goalie Matt Murray. Tie game.
The penalty had just expired as Ward put that shot in. Bonino wasn't yet in the play. It doesn't go down as a power-play goal, but it might as well be one.
That was also a shot you'd expect Murray to have or the defensemen to close the gap better. There just weren't many great things happening on that play for Pittsburgh, who had done such a great job killing the penalty to that point.
Murray is going to look at the tape and wonder how in the world that beat him. He was all over it, but it somehow slipped through. Neither of the Sharks goals in regulation looked great for the rookie netminder, who has been otherwise excellent throughout the playoffs. In the first period, he gave up a goal to defenseman Justin Braun where he never even saw the puck.
Ward has had a knack for scoring big goals in the postseason throughout his career. He has seven goals in these playoffs, his first with the Sharks. Considering the moment, few of his previous playoff scores were as big as that one for Big Goal Joel. This time he needed a good bounce and did he ever get it.
Ward has also probably never gotten a better reaction to a goal than the Sharks fans gave him for that one. It gave the Sharks life in a game they simply had to have and forced overtime in Game 3.