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Jones the 'backbone' for Sharks this postseason

San Jose goalie finding plenty of playoff success despite inexperience

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Martin Jones went from the Los Angeles Kings to the Boston Bruins to the San Jose Sharks in a two-week span last June. His head was spinning as he was traded twice, but when he wound up in San Jose, Jones could breathe and smile.

"When I got traded here, [I had] a lot of excitement at the potential of the team and the potential of getting an opportunity to play," Jones said. 

Jones became a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL for the first time in his career and has helped the Sharks to within two wins of their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Jones made 22 saves for his second consecutive shutout, and third in the past four games, a 3-0 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. He stopped 26 shots in a 4-0 win in Game 2 on Tuesday, and has made 58 straight saves.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Jones turns away Stastny

"He's the backbone of our team," Sharks center Joe Thornton said after the Game 2 victory. "When he's on, we feel we can't be beat. That's just how it is.

"Just knowing him from down in L.A., just such a big guy, such a calm goalie. We love playing in front of this guy. We honestly believe that he's the best goaltender in the League."

Jones became the first goaltender in Sharks history with back-to-back shutouts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He matched Evgeni Nabokov's record from 2004 with three playoff shutouts.

Jones has a shutout streak of 147:43 going into Game 4 here on Saturday (7:15 ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). He's closing in on Nabokov's Sharks playoff record of 178:14 set in 2004.

Jones gave credit to San Jose's solid defensemen and defensively responsible forwards for his success.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Jones denies Brodziak's scoring chance

"I'm not being asked to do anything too spectacular, just make the saves I'm supposed to make, and the guys have been taking care of the rest," Jones said.

"That's how you put up shutouts and don't give up a lot of goals. Forwards come back hard. They've been great. The [defensemen] have been awesome. The penalty kill's been really good. It's a lot of factors."

Jones' stellar play in his first 15 starts in the playoffs is at the top of the list. He's 10-5 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. Jones has a 0.68 GAA and .972 save percentage in three games against St. Louis.

"He's playing unbelievable," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "He's calm. He's making every single save."

Before Peter DeBoer was hired as San Jose coach on May 28, he was an assistant for Canada's gold medal team in the 2015 IIHF World Championship. Jones was a backup goaltender on that team, and DeBoer got a first-hand look at his future goaltender.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Jones denies Backes' chance

"He backed up Mike Smith," DeBoer said. "We got to spend a lot of time [together]. After practice, he was the guy we worked with. So I got to know him as a person and as a goalie a little bit in that situation prior to us acquiring him."

What impressed DeBoer most about Jones had more to do with his mind than his physical skill.

"I think it's his mental ability, his composure, the attitude he brings to the rink, the way he can shake off tough moments, reset," DeBoer said. "That's the stuff that I think separates goalies. He's got that."

Jones hasn't allowed a goal since 9:15 of the second period in Game 1. Blues forward Jori Lehtera scored from the left circle, without benefit of a screen, on a shot that Jones typically handles easily. He shook off that mistake and had back-to-back shutouts.

"It's not the first time I've let in a goal I didn't like," Jones said. "There's really no secret. You move on. There's really not much else you can do."

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