SAN JOSE - Martin Jones didn't give up a goal in the first few minutes of Saturday's game against the Vegas Golden Knights. In many of his starts last season, that was not the case.
And even though Saturday's game was a preseason tuneup, it was a good sign.
Jones is entering the upcoming season under a bit more scrutiny than some of his previous campaigns. His save percentage dipped in 2019 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 ending the season tied for the third-most regular-season wins among goalies across the league last year, there's no denying he needs to be better in his 2019-20 campaign.
Although the Sharks fell to the rival Golden Knights 3-1 on Saturday evening, Sharks' head 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 year, 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 last week against the Anaheim Ducks.
This has created some suspicion that one of San Jose's young netminders have a window to fight for the backup job. With just two preseason games left until the Sharks' 2019-20 campaign opens up 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 their 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 against the Golden Knights, forward Lean Bergmann and defenseman Mario Ferraro were the big standouts. But as DeBoer told the press after the game, this audition period is now drawing to a close and his roster needs to be put together.
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"You start running out of evaluation nights," the head 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."
San Jose's final three preseason games will be against the Ducks, Flames, and Golden Knights.