Martin Jones saved the Sharks season on Thursday night, turning in another incredible performance on a night when San Jose was thoroughly outshot by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jones topped his own postseason record by making 44 saves (41 was his best mark previously) and came within three saves of tying his most ever saves in a game (47 on March 7, 2016).
He made saves ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary, allowing just two goals on 46 shots for a cool save percentage of .957 on the night. One of those goals came on a Pittsburgh power play, so Jones’ even strength save percentage in the game was an impressive .975. So other than those 22 seconds of noted Not Goodness, Jones was perfect.
San Jose needed him to be perfect, too. Outshot 46-22 by Pittsburgh in an elimination game, the Sharks relied on their netminder time and again for save after save. Jones came through. He now has three games with more than 40 saves in this postseason. Jones has three of the 10 such performances in San Jose postseason history.
Jones’ performance doesn't come close to touching Wade Flaherty’s 56-save game in an overtime win in 1995, but his 44 saves are the most in regulation by a San Jose goalie. In fact, that puts him at 22nd on the list of most saves in a regulation NHL playoff game since the 1987-88 season and is the most in a Final game in the same timeframe.
This save on Nick Bonino is arguably Jones’ best of the night. Jones can’t rely on the posts for lateral movement here, so he has to incrementally work his way from right to left while making three gorgeous saves. The first save on Phil Kessel is one thing, but his smothering stop of a Bonino shot is absolutely spectacular.
Jones now boasts a .925 save percentage in the postseason, the third best mark by a San Jose goaltender who played in at least four games. That mark is good enough for fifth-best this postseason by any netminder who played a minimum of four contests as Jones passes Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
For the Sharks to pull off this comeback, they’ll need more of the same from Jones. It seems unlikely that San Jose will magically find a way to control possession in games six and seven, so Jones will need to continue to shine for the Sharks to bring the Stanley Cup home.
We can worry about Sunday later — for now, the Sharks season survives because of Jones. That's okay with me.