Joonas Donskoi (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
San Jose’s signing of Joonas Donskoi went largely under the radar, but the 23-year-old flashed an incredible move Monday night that showed a bit of what the Sharks saw in him. Donskoi’s move setup Matt Nieto for a great finish, too.
Joonas Donskoi was a fourth-round pick, 99th overall, of the Panthers in 2010, but he never played a single game for Florida. He was able to sign with San Jose this past off-season as a relative unknown, but he made clear what the Sharks saw in him Monday night by making a slick move to set up a beautiful goal by Matt Nieto.
Donskoi’s move came out of nowhere in the third period with the Sharks and visiting Ottawa Senators tied 2-2. Chris Tierney had the puck on the right wing wall and shovelled it toward Donskoi, but the pass was behind him. That was no problem, though, as Donskoi picked the puck up on his forehand, put it between his legs with his backhand, kicked it to his forehand and then slid it onto Nieto’s tape:
The move Donskoi makes is, in and of itself, a highlight. For the 23-year-old to pull that off standing still would have been something, but he did it at full speed in the middle of the ice with three defenders around him in a tie game. And Donskoi’s pass — perfectly on Nieto’s tape as he cuts across the front of the net — is the cherry on top.
Nieto shows great patience on the goal by dragging it all the way across his body and to the opposite side of the net before slipping it under Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson’s pad. The goal gave Nieto six on the season and Donskoi 17 points in his rookie campaign, and also put the Sharks ahead 3-2. San Jose would end up dropping the game in a shootout, but both Nieto and Donskoi were named two of the game’s three stars.