SAN JOSE – The Sharks have won eight of their last nine home games in the playoffs, none bigger than Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at SAP Center.
And while Joonas Donskoi was the hero, scoring the overtime goal, Martin Jones deserves as much credit as anyone for getting the Sharks back into the series. The 26-year-old finished with 40 saves, including nine in overtime.
The Penguins had a number of chances after regulation, attempting to take a commanding three-games-to-none lead in the series, but Jones held his ground while Pittsburgh just missed on a couple other attempts, including Evgeni Malkin’s chance from close range that he elevated too high.
"Everyone knows what's at stake. I thought we did a good job preparing for overtime,” Jones said. “We played well. That was our best game of the series. We can still be better. It was a good step forward for us."
Jones has allowed just 17 goals in 10 home playoff games, going 8-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and two shutouts.
He is also seemingly better the more work he gets.
In his regular season career, Jones is 24-6-3 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .929 save percentage when facing at least 27 shots.
When he sees 26 or fewer, Jones is 13-17-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.
That could be a benefit against the Penguins, who have outshot the opposition in 12 straight playoff games by an average margin of about 12 shots per game, and are averaging 35.4 in the playoffs.
“That's kind of just the way they play,” Jones said of the Penguins’ ability to rack up shots. “They throw pucks from all angles. We're not too worried about the shot clock."
On the other end, Matt Murray let in some questionable scores. He couldn’t track Justin Braun’s wrist shot from the high slot, and allowed Joel Ward’s slapper from just about the same spot out to sneak under his arm.
“Yeah, that was a bit of a weird one,” Murray said of Ward’s goal. “His release point was a little bit further back than most slap shots are and it kind of dipped a little bit at the last second, and I just waved it at it and missed it. It's not a good goal by any means, but I thought I made a couple good saves after that. It was just a weird one."
Murray made a couple strong stops in overtime, including on Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. But he couldn’t deny Donskoi.
Sidney Crosby said: “I think they were pressing late and he made some saves. In overtime he made some saves. Both goalies did.”