Quick Bites: Jones is the last goaltender standing

Sharks beat the Predators, breathe life into their season.

Time for a quick look at everything you missed last night. The short summary, the San Jose Sharks beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 in the shootout last night. Keep reading for the details.

Jones vs. Saros

Martin Jones has been much maligned this season and the criticism has been deserved, but last night Jones showed us why Doug Wilson signed him to a long-term contract. Jones stopped 24 shots last night for a .960 save percentage. More importantly than that, he out dueled Juuse Saros in the shootout, stopping all seven of the shooters he faced.

In the battle of Jones vs. Saros, Jones came out on top.

Hertl powers Sharks to overtime

I know we sometimes skip all the highlights in Quick Bites, but it’s tough to ignore Tomas Hertl’s goal to tie the game just five minutes into the third period. For the first 45 minutes, Saros stopped everything the Sharks threw at him. But Hertl kept after it. He finished the night with five shots on goal, including the one that beat Saros to tie the game at one.

Meier goes top shelf in the shootout

Neither team could score again in regulation or overtime, so it went to a shootout. We already showed you Jones stonewalling all seven Nashville shooters that he faced, but how about the goal to win it all: Timo Meier with the top shelf shot that beat Saros.

Power play power outage, but 5-on-5 is better

The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play and held the Predators scoreless on their four power play attempts as well, so special teams was a wash.

However, the Sharks’ 5-on-5 play was loads better.

Looking at score- and venue-adjusted 5-on-5 play, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, you can see that the Sharks won the possession battle for a good portion of the game. Nashville is a very good team, so this win on the 5-on-5 front is a huge victory for a Sharks team that has struggled recently.

Blocked shots

One of the reasons for the Sharks’ success 5-on-5 last night was blocked shots.

San Jose must have felt really bad about hanging Jones out to dry on Thursday because they were putting their bodies in front of pucks at every moment possible. The Sharks blocked 17 shots last night, more than double the eight shots they blocked on Thursday night.

Leading the team in blocked shots was Brent Burns, who had blocked four shots and put four shots of his own on net.

Hey Karlsson, where’s the D?

Filip Forsberg made a very pretty move in the Sharks’ zone to net the Predators’ only goal of the night, but I expected a little more on defense from the Sharks’ highest paid defenseman. Judge for yourself.

Karlsson looked a little off his game last night.

The Radim Simek Effect

I realize this is just a silly stat, but the Sharks are now 3-0-0 with Radim Simek in the lineup this season.

That is all.

Final thoughts

There’s not much for Sharks fans to be happy about this season and a lot of that can be traced back to a team that just doesn’t look like it’s trying. That was not the case last night.

There was a point in the second period, about seven minutes in, that I saw the team that went all the way to the Western Conference Final last season. They were grinding it out in the Predators zone. They were cycling the puck and they were competing for those 50-50 pucks. This game was about who wanted it more and when it came down to it, the Sharks showed they were going to do whatever it took to get the win.

And backing all of them up was Jones, who, for all his faults in previous games, was very, very solid in net last night. The Predators are certainly playoff contenders and the Sharks showed last night that when it all comes together, they can be playoff contenders too.

Here’s to hoping this is a turning point.