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Sharks' Jones shows poise of playoff veteran

Goalie, in first postseason as starter, quietly big reason for San Jose's success

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

ST. LOUIS -- There is so much loudness in the game the San Jose Sharks play that the quietness of goaltender Martin Jones often gets lost in the shuffle.

The Sharks are led by a cadre of veterans with strong personalities and flashy games.

Defenseman Brent Burns has the biker beard and the booming slap shot. Forward Joe Thornton has a beard worthy of ZZ Top and the oversized personality worthy of a rock star. Captain Joe Pavelski and second-line center Logan Couture each wears his heart on his sleeves on the ice, as combative and competitive as you will find in the game.

As a result, they tend to get the headlines, and the soft-spoken Jones is often lost in the shuffle.

"He's confident and laid-back and relaxed, and nothing fazes him," Couture said.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm2: Jones blanks the Blues in Gm2 of WCF

He wasn't in the background Tuesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The Second Star of the game, Jones was a primary story line in a 4-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues that evened this best-of-7 series at 1-1.

Game 3 is at SAP Center in San Jose on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

How unusual was the shutout? In 50 home games this season, regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues have been shut out twice; Jhonas Enroth of the Los Angeles Kings did it Nov. 3.

In Game 1, Jones allowed a soft goal to St. Louis center Jori Lehtera, a knuckling slap shot that squeezed between Jones' arm and his chest and stood up as the game-winner in a 2-1 Blues victory.

Forty-eight hours later, he did not allow a goal on 26 shots, earning his second shutout in the past three games.

"Obviously, in Game 1, you don't like to lose on a goal like that," Jones said. "I thought I played well other than that. I wasn't really going to change anything. We just played well and got the bounces tonight."

Jones stopped right wing Vladimir Tarasenko on a breakaway in the first minute of the game, then made 11 saves in the third period when St. Louis found its game and tried to rally from a 2-0 hole. Jones was aided by the fact that St. Louis right wing Troy Brouwer twice hit a goal post with a shot, but it was still one of his best games.

"It's good to see," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. "Great goaltender. He's calm. There is no panic with him."

It's unusual to say those things about a goalie starting in the playoffs for the first time in his NHL career.

"I think because of the way he handles himself, the composure he shows up at the rink with every day, I don't think of him like that," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said when asked if he still thinks of Jones as a playoff rookie.

Jones, 26, had a long apprenticeship with the Los Angeles Kings behind Jonathan Quick before being traded June 26 to the Boston Bruins, who sent him to the Sharks four days later.

In 14 playoff games, Jones is 9-5 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. His teammates are not surprised by what he has done this postseason.

"Anyone who has followed his career knows he's won at every level," said forward Tommy Wingels, who scored the winning goal in Game 2. "Playing against him in the American [Hockey] League, you certainly could never beat him."

Couture said, "He plays like a guy that has been a playoff goaltender for a lot of years. He's just so calm back there."

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