SAN JOSE – Joonas Donskoi may still be a rookie in the NHL, but he spoke like a grizzled veteran after his two misplays in the first period keyed a 4-2 Vancouver win over the Sharks on Thursday at SAP Center.
Donskoi couldn’t handle a simple pass in the neutral zone from Paul Martin, leading to Daniel Sedin’s rebound score a little more a minute after the puck dropped, and later coughed up the disc to Bo Horvat, who raced in and beat Martin Jones on a partial breakaway before Donskoi could recover.
He admitted to the “two big mistakes” in his postgame media scrum, but already seemed to be in the process of putting the night behind him.
“That’s gone now. You can’t take those back. I always like to think positive things,” Donskoi said. “I had a lot of those mistakes in Finnish league and usually I could not go forward after that. The positive thing is I didn’t get stuck. I kept going normally and I think I didn’t fold with those mistakes.”
Is that part of his maturity as a player?
“It’s one part. There has been some development mentally to work at [that] and keep going,” he said.
Donskoi, who turns 24 on April 13, is a bit older than a standard NHL first-year player. He was drafted by the Panthers in the third round in 2010, but ended up back in Finland for five seasons before signing with the Sharks as a free agent last May. He’s become one of the Sharks’ most important depth forwards, with 35 points (11g, 24a) in 72 games.
Lately, Donskoi has been skating alongside Logan Couture. Named an alternate captain before the season, Couture indicated that nothing much had to be said to Donskoi after his two errors.
“You pat him on the back and say go have a good shift the next shift. He knows that,” Couture said. “All players – or, most players in this league – realize they make mistakes. I’m sure he feels bad, but he’s made enough great plays this year to forget about those.”
It’s not like Donskoi was the only Sharks player that had a night to forget, either. The majority of the roster seemed to be going through the motions after clinching a playoff spot earlier in the week and playing against one of the league’s bottom-dwellers.
“The sharpness just wasn’t where it usually is,” Patrick Marleau said. “Just need to get that back.”