22 Apr 19
LAS VEGAS — Tomas Hertl figured he’d take a chance.
Skating through the neutral zone after taking a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic while the Sharks were killing a penalty in the second overtime, Hertl carried the puck over the blue line, dusted it off and beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot on the short side from the top of the circle.
“When I first get (the puck), I was already a little bit tired. I was thinking maybe just dump it in and change,” Hertl said. “But I saw a little bit of space. I just take a couple steps and try to shoot it. I don’t know if (Shea) Theodore if he just hit my puck maybe a little bit change (direction).
“But you know, if you don’t try, you never know. So I tried it and somehow get through.”
UNREAL (shorthanded) ENDING. pic.twitter.com/2dY7iAW3oh
— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) April 22, 2019
Hertl had expressed unbridled confidence after the Sharks’ win in Game 5 that he and his teammates would play again at SAP Center. Hertl, his teammates and coach Pete DeBoer thought it was going too far to call it a guarantee, but the belief was there despite having a huge mountain still to climb.
The Sharks are almost all the way there now, as Hertl’s goal at the 11:17 mark of the second overtime and Martin Jones’ franchise playoff-record 58 saves gave the Sharks a 2-1 win in Game 6, leveled the series at three wins apiece and set up a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday in San Jose.
“Well, Tomas wears his heart on his sleeve, and I don’t know how that rolled out, whether it was social media or whatever, but it was ridiculous,” DeBoer said of the supposed guarantee. “There was no guarantee made. It was an emotional guy with English as his second language, you know, just professing his confidence in our group. He did that and he delivered.”
Takeaways from an unforgettable night at T-Mobile Arena.
1. Martin Jones was unreal, but so was his defense (mostly): The save total was historic. Jones’ record night eclipsed a 24-year-old franchise record for saves in a playoff game, held by Wade Flaherty, who made 56 in the Sharks’ 5-4 double overtime win over Calgary on May 19, 1995 in Game 7 of that first round series.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 21: San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) looks for the puck against the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game 6 of their NHL first round playoff series at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday, April 21, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Jones on Sunday made 10 saves in the first period, 16 in the second, 17 in the third and 15 through 31 minutes and 17 seconds of overtime.
After coming into Sunday with a .866 save percentage in five games, including two games where he was pulled in favor of Aaron Dell, Jones now has a .906 save percentage this series.
After all that, though, Jones was quick to credit the work of the skaters around him. The Golden Knights had just three chances off the rush for the game compared to the Sharks’ nine.
The Sharks also did a fine job of getting sticks into passing lanes to thwart quality chances.
Like our Sharks Facebook page for more San Jose Sharks news, commentary and conversation.
“When we eliminate that stuff off the rush, odd-man rushes, it makes life a lot easier,” Jones said. “We did a good job keeping guys in front of us, in zone. They didn’t have a ton of point-blank looks. We did a good job around the net.”
Still, Jones had to come huge when the game was on the line. In the third period, Reilly Smith one-timed a pass from Jon Merrill but was stopped by a sliding Jones.
“Yeah, I think it was kind of a slow three-on-two,” Jones said. “:He made a pass across and I was able to get across. Just missed my five-hole, but I was just able to get across on that one.”
“We knew Jones was on, you could feel it,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “When you’re looking at the scoreboard, the shots are saying what they are, but the Jones is moving and seeing the puck.
“It wasn’t 2-on-1’s, breakaways, guys weren’t getting behind us. It was pretty tight in that group out there, blocked some shot and (hung) in there.”
For complete Sharks coveragefollow us on Flipboard.
Even on Vegas’ lone goal, Jonathan Marchessault had to make a nice shot to lift it over Jones’ outstretched right pad.
It was also the second straight game the line of Paul Stastny, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty had been held off the scoresheet, after that trio had torched the Sharks for 23 points through four games.
2. The Sharks able to reset after the third period: The Golden Knights got better as regulation time continued and quite frankly the Sharks were probably a bit fortunate to get out the first 60 minutes with the game still tied.
In between the third period and the first overtime, the Sharks were able to hit the reset button. At the start of the first overtime, they cleaned up some turnovers and started to get the puck deep in the Golden Knights zone and establish a forecheck.
And the Sharks were living dangerously there for a while.
“We talked going into the overtime that we wanted to get back on our toes and get back on the forecheck. I thought we did that,” DeBoer said. “I thought it was a gutsy effort on the road in a tough situation for our group. We’re still alive.”
In between the first and second overtimes, Logan Couture said, “There’s 15 minutes between overtime periods, so there’s not much conversation. You do what you personally have to do.
“The only thing that was really said was ‘stick with it, it’s coming. We feel good and we’re going to go out and score.’ And that was it.”
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]3. The penalty kill improves: After allowing two power play goals in Game 5, the Sharks were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill Sunday. The Golden Knights had just two opportunities with the man advantage in regulation time and even then had just one shot on goal. Even before Hertl scored his shorthanded goal, the Sharks had not allowed a shot in the 31 seconds prior.
The Sharks had three blocks on Golden Knights shots on power plays.
“As you go through a series you get to know a team’s tendencies and you get to dial in on them a little, and I think Jones is a big part of that too,” DeBoer said. “Your goalie is always your best penalty killer.”