NASHVILLE – He’s been a breakout star of sorts in the Sharks’ playoff run so far. Rookie Joonas Donskoi scored a pair of key goals in San Jose’s series-clinching win against the Kings in the first round, and in the first two games against Nashville, was a part of the team’s most dangerous line with Logan Couture and Joel Ward.
Game 3, though, was one he’d like to forget. His high-stick of James Neal put him in the penalty box for four minutes and allowed Neal to tie the game on the power play, and later, in a four-on-four situation, Ryan Johansen pressured him into a turnover. Seconds later, Shea Weber powered in a slap shot from the slot, giving the Predators a 2-1 lead they would not surrender in a 4-1 win.
Donskoi eventually ended up on the fourth line, as coach Pete DeBoer shuffled the deck for the third period.
“They got the big PP goal. That’s a tie game after that,” Donskoi said after the game. “Then a bad turnover from me personally, and they just kind of got the momentum back after that.”
He’s confident he’ll be able to move on right away.
“Yeah, it happens sometimes. You cannot take those back. I’m disappointed with my personal effort, so I have to be much, much better next game,” he said.
Like any first year player, mistakes are inevitable. His Game 3 performance was similar in some respects to a game against Vancouver on March 31, when a pair of Donskoi misplays led directly to two Vancouver goals.
There were no lasting effects from that performance, and DeBoer will continue to count on Donskoi, 24, to be a key contributor.
“He’s had a couple of nights like that through the year,” DeBoer said. “When a guy handles the puck like he does and has the confidence to try to beat people in open ice, you are going to have some nights where it is not working and you are turning it over, and I think that’s what happened [Tuesday] night.
“He’s earned our group’s trust that he recognizes it, can fix it and bounce back. It was just one of those tough nights for him and in the past when it’s happened, he’s bounced right back.”
In eight playoff games, Donskoi, the Sharks' rookie of the year, has four points (2g, 2a) and a minus-two rating. He finished the regular season with 36 points (11g, 25a) in 76 games.