The San Jose Sharks will play the season's final game at the SAP Center tonight, with the chance to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
It's a lede I didn't think I'd get a chance to write after watching the first four games of the series, as well as when Martin Jones stood on his head in Game 5. Jones provided the best performance of his career when the Sharks needed it most. Now, it's up to the rest of the team to repay Jones, and match that effort.
It's irrelevant how the Sharks got to this point in the Stanley Cup Final, and only matters what they do now, given this opportunity. Game 6 provides a chance for the Sharks to rewrite the wrongs of this series, play in the manner that helped them reach the Final in the first place, and take the series to a point the Penguins desperately want to avoid. It's a chance to give a tremendously loyal home crowd, used to hearbreak in the franchise's 25 year-existence, something they've only dreamed about: the ultimate chance to win hockey's ultimate prize.
Tale Of The Tape
Martin Jones put the team on his back, and Logan Couture added three points to his playoff-leading total as the Sharks extended their season with a 4-2 victory in Pittsburgh.
- The pregame ceremonies are going to be something to see tonight. Honoring the life of Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, in the first game since his passing and the crowd's chance to will the Sharks to a Game 7? The SAP Center will be rocking.
- Something's gotta give: Matt Murray is 5-0 in his next start after losses this postseason, while the Sharks are 2-0 in potential elimination games, and 1-0 at the SAP Center.
- Should fatigue be a concern for Martin Jones given his gargantuan performance in Game 5? He's only had two other 40+ save games this year. The first, in March, was followed by an .867 SV% at home against the Devils. The second, in the conference semis against Nashville, was followed by 24 saves on 25 shots in a game 5 win at home. The Sharks need the latter kind of performance tonight.
- There were few positives from the skaters given the Sharks were out-attempted 76-36 by the Penguins in Game 5. But, Pete DeBoer has some matchups he can exploit with the Sharks' new look lines. Karlsson played more minutes against the HBK line than his linemates Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, and admittedly struggled. But, Marleau and Couture both had positive possession numbers against that line. Additionally, just about every Sharks player drove play against the Penguins' fourth line. DeBoer would be wise to continue sending his top lines against Cullen, Fehr, and Kuhnhackl.