The Sharks were trailing 2-0 in the series and 2-1 in the game, but Joel Ward gave his team life with his goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
As we continue with our countdown of the Top 10 playoff moments from the postseason, here’s a chance to look back the previous ones:
Now, as we’ve reached moment number seven in our countdown, take the chance to relive one of the few bright spots from the Stanley Cup finals:
7. Joel Ward’s Third Period Game-Tying Rocket In Game 3.
Although the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the majority of the Stanley Cup Final, the San Jose Sharks were able to push the series to six games, and Joel Ward’s goal in the waning moments of Game 3 was a big reason why.
The Sharks were arguably playing their best game of the series up to that point, yet found themselves getting dominated in the shots on goal category once again in Game 3. Team teal came out with a different mentality after the second intermission though and put together a better period.
However, San Jose still came away from a four-minute long power-play with nothing to show for it and missed on a few other chances during the first half of the period as well.
With 11:12 remaining in the period, Ward took matters into his own hands and fired an absolute rifle past the glove of Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. It was a risky play by the well-known playoff hero as he had two open Sharks on either side of him for a one-timer on the three-on-two opportunity, but his decision paid off and led to the Sharks overtime victory for their first Stanley Cup Final win in franchise history.
The shot captivated Ward’s career – and more importantly his playoff career – perfectly.
A game-winning goal in overtime of a 2012 Game 7, a winning goal with 1.3 seconds left in a game in last year’s playoffs and now a game-tying goal – which would lead to Joonas Donskoi’s game-winning goal – in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final are just a few of the accomplishments Ward has achieved in his illustrious playoff career.
Despite a measly 0.37 points per game in the regular season, Ward elevates his game when it matters most as he records 0.62 PPG in the playoffs throughout his career.
After scoring a respectable 43 points in 79 regular season games, Ward exploded in some of San Jose’s biggest games in franchise history. He scored two goals in Game 5 and two goals in Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues to help his team reach the Finals. And lets not forget about this sick move against Nashville on Pekka Rinne and this nifty goal in the Game 7 victory against the Preds:
He also notched an assist on Justin Braun’s late game-tying goal in Game 2 against Pittsburgh, sending the game to overtime, before his game-tying Game 3 goal helped set up the Sharks victory.
GM Doug Wilson and the entire Sharks front office must be commended for stealing Ward last summer with a three-year, $9.8 million contract. In today’s game where it’s not rare to see stars making eight-figures per year, to get one of the game’s best playoff performers for just over $3 million per season is a price many GM’s around the league are now wishing they would have paid.
The goal was one of the loudest moments in the history of the Shark Tank and one that won’t be forgotten for a long time. It was a huge Stanley Cup finals moment from Ward and kept the Sharks afloat for the time being against the Penguins.