PITTSBURGH -- Sometimes all it takes is a hot goaltender to spoil a party.
It seemed like half the city was either inside Consol Energy Center or outside on the street near the arena Thursday watching and hoping to see the Pittsburgh Penguins lift the Stanley Cup.
Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks had other plans.
The Sharks finally got Jones a lead and he did the rest, making 44 saves in a 4-2 victory against the Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Logan Couture also played a big role with a goal and two assists, but Jones is the main reason the Sharks are headed back to SAP Center to host Game 6 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
"Yeah, that was believable," Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said. "He's calm. He doesn't flinch. He doesn't go after guys. He doesn't lose his cool. He's always tapping us on the pads saying we did a good job, and usually he's bailing us out."
That was mostly the case from the start of the second period Thursday. The Sharks led 3-2 after a wild first period. They charged out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Brent Burns and Couture in the opening 2:53 -- the first time they played with a lead in the series -- only to have the Penguins come back and tie it with goals 22 seconds apart from Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin.
After Nick Bonino's shot deflected in off Hagelin at 5:06 of the first, Jones stopped 42 consecutive shots, many of them under duress. He also got some help from the goal posts during a Penguins power play later in the first period.
But after Melker Karlsson scored with 5:13 left in the first to put the Sharks back ahead 3-2, they pretty much sat back and let Jones do the rest.
"He's been doing it all year, not just tonight," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "He does it every game for us."
This wasn't just any game for the Sharks. If they lost, it would have meant the end of their season and watching the Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh celebrate a championship.
"We needed some big-game performances from guys," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "[Jones] was one of those guys in a tough environment."
Jones, who made 40 saves in the Sharks' 3-2 overtime win in Game, 3, is the first goaltender in the NHL's expansion era (since 1967-68) with multiple 40-save victories in one Cup Final, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
On Thursday, Jones provided the kind of performance a team needs from its goaltender to turn around a playoff series.
"Especially out there," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "Their crowd was going. They had some momentum at times, and he kept answering."
Jones begrudgingly acknowledged that "everybody" enjoys "winning the elimination games" but deflected the credit to his teammates.
"I felt good tonight," he said. "I thought our D did a good job in front of the net. We got a few bounces. It was a combination of things.
Jones had to be particularly good in a lopsided second period when the Penguins outshot the Sharks 17-8 and seemed to keep coming at him in waves with Sidney Crosby, Malkin and Phil Kessel on the ice one shift after another. With his teammates often scrambling around him to try to keep up, Jones calmly stopped the puck and kept the Sharks ahead.
"He's very calm," Sharks defenseman Paul Martin said. "He's got that confidence about him, just goes about his business. We trust him back there, and he gives us a chance to win every night."
Jones' best save was on a Bonino rebound chance with 4:54 remaining in the second period. He made a left-pad save on Kessel's initial shot from the top of the left circle but left a rebound in front.
It appeared Jones would have little chance to stop Bonino's backhand effort until he kicked out his left leg and got his toe on the puck.
"You always have a chance," Jones said. "I kind of made life a little difficult for myself a few times tonight with a couple rebounds. I just tried to get over and take away the bottom of the net."
For so many years, the Sharks fell short of expectations in the Stanley Cup Playoffs because they never seemed to get the timely save in the big moment. That was the reason general manager Doug Wilson targeted Jones, 26, last summer and eventually acquired the former Los Angeles Kings backup from the Boston Bruins on June 30.
Jones backed up Jonathan Quick on the Kings' 2014 Stanley Cup team. If he and the Sharks can defy the odds and win two more games, he'll get his name on the Cup again, but this time as a No. 1 goaltender.
"He's been playing like this for a long time, regular season [and] playoffs," Couture said. "A lot of people unfortunately don't get to see him, us being on the West Coast. He's been unbelievable for us."
by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer