SAN JOSE — Martin Jones didn't give up a goal in the first few minutes of Saturday night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. That was not the case In many of his starts last season.
And even though this was a preseason tune-up at SAP Center, it was a good sign for the Sharks goalie.
Jones is entering this season under a bit more scrutiny than in some previous campaigns. His save percentage dipped from .915 to .896, and his habit of giving up the first goal early in games had the team in front of him playing from behind on one too many occasions.
Despite Jones ending the season tied for the third-most regular-season wins among goalies across the NHL last season, there's no denying he needs to be better in 2019-20.
Although the Sharks fell to the Pacific Division rival Golden Knights 3-1, coach Peter DeBoer was happy with Jones' first preseason outing.
"I thought he was really solid," DeBoer said afterward. "I thought he played a really good game."
Jones appeared to see the game pretty well for most of the evening, flashing the leather a few times when the Vegas offense began to pick up steam.
Even though Vegas' next two goals -- scored by familiar foes Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch -- were a bit reminiscent of goals scored against Jones last season, the goalie was able to rebound and shake off a little more of that preseason rust.
Score aside, Jones' first preseason contest gives more hope that San Jose's goaltending arsenal can bounce back this season. Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, impressed in his first preseason showing earlier in the week against the Anaheim Ducks.
This has created some suspicion that one of San Jose's young netminders has a window to fight for the backup job. With just two preseason games left until the Sharks' 2019-20 campaign opens on the road in Las Vegas, both goalies are bound to get more work in as they gear up for the regular season.
On that same note, San Jose still has roles to fill on its roster, and just about a week to make some decisions as to who will skate with the big club on opening night.
In Saturday's game, forward Lean Bergmann and defenseman Mario Ferraro were the big standouts. But as DeBoer told the press after the game, this audition period now is drawing to a close and his roster needs to be put together.
"You start running out of evaluation nights," the coach said. "We're getting close. We have to start getting our group together and start to get ready. That's what this is about. So, the guys, I think, between the training camp scrimmages and the exhibition games, have had more than enough opportunity to show us what they can do."
The Sharks’ final three preseason games will be against the Ducks, Flames and Golden Knights before the Oct. 2 season opener.