Martin Jones' third-period effort helped set Sharks up for overtime win


Martin Jones' third-period effort helped set Sharks up for overtime win

Like the team playing in front of him Wednesday evening, Sharks goaltender Martin Jones didn’t have his best stuff in the second period of Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Blues. Heck, a .875 save percentage overall isn’t exactly stellar.

But with his team down a goal heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation, No. 31 did a full 180-degree turn and became the reason San Jose was able to stay in the game and tie things up with less than two minutes left to play. 

Jones’ ability to stay calm and collected made a huge difference for Team Teal.

“For him to keep his composure ... He came up with some huge saves to get it to overtime,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after San Jose won 5-4.

DeBoer admitted he didn’t think that four-goal period for St. Louis was entirely Jones’ fault either.

“I felt bad for Jonesy,” he said. “I think two of their pucks went in off of Justin Braun in the second period. I don’t know when we’ve given up four goals in the second period, I can’t remember the last time. And you look at the goals and it was some seeing-eye stuff where it hit us and deflected in a perfect spot.”

The nature of the goals makes it even more impressive how Jones kept it together, stopping some grade-A chances from the surging Blues offense. His stop on David Perron in the third period  -- which stopped Perron from registering a hat trick, no less -- visibly gave his team a boost. 

Of course, when asked about his big third period in an interview with NBC’s Jeremy Roenick, Jones maintained that even-keel attitude Sharks fans have come to expect from him.

“Just wanted to give our guys a chance and then we did a great job there,” he said with a shrug. “It sucks giving up four and obviously giving up a two-goal lead. Just stick with it. We were down one goal, we were still in the game.”

Jones’ big stops set the foundation for Logan Couture to score the game-tying goal with 1:01 left on the game clock, en route to a heavily-debated overtime win for the Sharks. For Jones, at least, he did his part in giving the Sharks a chance to make it to overtime in the first place and help get them a two-games-to-one series lead. 

[RELATED: DeBoer disagrees with notion Sharks have gotten "lucky" in playoffs]

Now, he and his team can’t let that second-period slump happen again.

“Pretty gutsy win, but we’ve got to play better, we know that,” Jones critiqued. “The second period, we had too many turnovers, too many lost battles. But we found a way to come back late in the third and I thought we played really well in overtime.”

“Anything can happen, especially in the playoffs,” Jones said. “We’ve seen that already in the first two rounds.”

NHL rumors: Patrick Marleau only wants trade to Sharks by Maple Leafs


NHL rumors: Patrick Marleau only wants trade to Sharks by Maple Leafs

As he's linked to a trade away from salary cap-strapped Toronto, Maple Leafs winger Patrick Marleau reportedly has one destination in mind above all else this offseason. 

Marleau, the longest-tenured player in Sharks history, wants to return to San Jose, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos said during a Tuesday appearance on "Prime Time Sports" on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto. A reunion won't be so simple, according to Kypreos.

"So right now, my understanding is San Jose's not sure yet," Kypreos said. "[Sharks general manager] Doug Wilson's in a position to say, 'Yeah, maybe I'm interested, but not certainly at the price of the last year of the contract.' So, I would probably believe that a third team would need to get involved, a team that needs to get to the [salary] floor. The Leafs would have to entice that team to take [Marleau's] contract, and have to give up something. And then if [the third team] were to buy out Marleau, then San Jose could come in and sign him at a number that they're satisfied with."

Marleau, who will turn 40 in September, is entering the final year of a three-year, $18.75 million contract that he signed with the Leafs in 2017. He has a full no-movement clause, and can veto any potential trade.

The veteran forward is coming off his worst offensive season (37 points) since he was a rookie, and the Leafs reportedly want to trade him in order to clear enough cap space to re-sign pending restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner. Marleau took Marner and Leafs star Auston Matthews under his wing in his first two seasons in Toronto, but he’s no longer creating offense or driving play as well as he once did. 

While the Leafs can retain up to 50 percent of Marleau's cap hit -- or $3.125 million -- in any trade, that's still likely a bit rich for what the forward brings to the table at this point in his career. Throw in the Sharks' own cap concerns, as evidenced by trading Justin Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers one day after making Erik Karlsson the NHL's highest-paid defenseman, and it's hard to envision a trade outside of the three-team scenario that Kypreos outlined.

With recent reports indicating the salary cap might rise to $82 million rather than the $83 million the NHL first projected, San Jose would have about $15.3 million in cap space with just seven forwards under contract. Toronto retaining salary still might not leave enough space for the Sharks to re-sign their cadre of free agents. Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi all can hit the market as unrestricted free agents, and Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are due to hit restricted free agency. 

[RELATED: What should the Sharks do with Joakim Ryan?]

Pursuing a post-buyout Marleau is another matter entirely. He remains a popular figure among fans and his former teammates alike, but Marleau's production is more in line with a bottom-six forward at this stage of his career. The Sharks didn't get enough production from depth forwards in the playoffs, and it's possible that returning to his longtime NHL home with his family in pursuit of his -- and the franchise's -- first Stanley Cup would rejuvenate Marleau.

But as things stand right now, Marleau is a Maple Leaf, and the Sharks have more pressing priorities. 

Sharks' Joe Thornton 'feels great', will return for 22nd NHL season

Sharks' Joe Thornton 'feels great', will return for 22nd NHL season

It's sounding like Joe Thornton will be back with the Sharks next season.

Thornton had previously expressed that if he were to return for a 22nd NHL season, it would indeed be with San Jose.

"I’m a Shark,” Thornton said at the Sharks' end-of-season availability. “There’s one team, and it’s here.”

At the NHL Awards media availability on Tuesday, Thornton eliminated whatever mystery remained and confirmed he would put off retirement for at least another year, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Thornton went even further while clarifying his comments to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

Thornton can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but it's fully expected he and San Jose will come to an agreement on a contract -- a task made somewhat easier by the trade of defensemen Justin Braun on Tuesday morning, which provides some much-needed salary cap relief.

[RELATED: Sharks trade Braun to Flyers, acquire two draft picks]

"He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decision’s right for him," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said of Thornton back in May. "But we love him. I think I’ve been in this business a long time, I’ve never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him."

Thornton's announcement Tuesday would seem to indicate there are plenty of more days left to cherish.