San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones stopped 44 shots in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, but no save was better than his left toe stop on Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino. Jones’ stop was kept the Sharks ahead 3-2, and San Jose added an empty-netter to force Game 6.
The Stanley Cup final is heading back to San Jose with the Sharks in a position to tie the series and force a seventh game. And even though it was the first game of the series in which Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski found the goal column, it’s Martin Jones who was the real star of Game 5.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, as they have throughout the playoffs, dominated the possession game Thursday night and put the Sharks on their heels for a good portion of the second and third frames. And were it not for Jones, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Sharks emerge victorious. The Sharks goaltender made more than a dozen big saves, and none was more spectacular than this lunging toe save on what looked like a sure goal for Penguins center Nick Bonino.
After receiving a cross-ice pass, Phil Kessel, who was a force all night, fired a shot that was blocked but bounced right back onto his tape. Kessel’s second shot was low and hard but was kicked away by Jones right onto Bonino’s stick. He immediately batted a backhand towards the net when Jones darted his left pad out to rob Bonino:
The stop was one of 17 saves Jones made in the second period, and over the course of the game he turned away 44 of 46 shots he faced over three periods of work. It was a busy night for Jones, and he’s one of the only reasons the Sharks clung to their narrow 3-2 lead for the entire second and third periods.
It’s tough to ask Jones to repeat his Game 5 performance in Game 6, but if he can turn in another outstanding showing Sunday evening, this series could be heading back to Pittsburgh for a winner-takes-all Game 7.