PITTSBURGH – Martin Jones, Stanley Cup party pooper.
The San Jose Sharks goalie made 44 saves to keep his team alive in the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 Game 5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, ruining the potential celebration for the Penguins and the tens of thousands of fans that had gathered in and around CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins lead the series, 3-2. Game 6 is scheduled for San Jose on Sunday.
Logan Couture had a goal and two assists for the Sharks.
Two questionable goals surrendered by Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray gave the Sharks all the offensive life they needed on a night that was otherwise dominated by the Penguins’ constant swarms of attack.
The first period was the most entertaining of the Final, by far, as the teams combined for five goals and 22 shots.
The Sharks entered the game vowing to take any and all shots despite the Penguins’ shot-blocking defense. They also put a premium on getting the first goal, and defenseman Brent Burns provided it for his first of the series.
That whip-around shot at 1:04 of the first that beat Murray, who dropped too quickly, was reminiscent of Joonas Donskoi’s tally in overtime of Game 3.
So the Sharks had their first lead of the series, and then 1:49 later they had their first two-goal lead of the series thanks to Couture.
Justin Braun, again firing away, sent the puck towards the goal and Couture deflected it past Murray for this first of the series and ninth of the playoffs. Of the Sharks’ Big Five veterans, he’d had the best series, and would be heard from again.
That goal killed the crowd noise momentarily. But it came roaring back as the Penguins did.
Sharks forward Dainius Zubrus put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty at 4:21 of the first period. That put the Penguins on the power play, and at 4:44 Evgeni Malkin put one in off the Sharks.
After a great Phil Kessel pass across the ice to set up Malkin, the Penguins' star waited until there were bodies near Jones. He confidently snapped the puck off the body of Braun to cut the lead to 2-1, scoring his sixth of the playoffs.
It took 22 seconds for the Penguins to knot it up.
Nick Bonino’s shot deflected off Carl Hagelin and behind Jones for his sixth of the playoffs, as the HBK Line produced the equalizer and made the crowd pop louder than it had all night.
The four goals in 5:06 were the fastest scored to start a game in Stanley Cup Final history.
The Penguins had another chance on the power play after Brent Burns’ high-sticking penalty at 8:18, but the Sharks had some puck luck: Chris Kunitz blasted a shot off the goal cage, and Phil Kessel followed with one that hit the post, slid across the goal line and then off the opposite post.
At 14:47, the Sharks stuck again, and it was another that Murray would want back:
Couture snapped a behind the back pass to Melker Karlsson in the slot, and his shot found its way past Murray for the 3-2 lead. It was Karlsson’s second goal in as many games and fifth of the playoffs.
The second period was defined by two things: Laissez-faire officiating and the play of Jones.
Jones made 17 saves, some of them spectacular, as the Penguins continued to dominate in possession. (Murray, who remained in the game, calmed down on the opposite end.)
Meanwhile, rather obvious calls on Roman Polak (roughing) and Joe Pavelski (interference) weren’t whistled, a dozen other infractions were ignored. The period ended with the Sharks maintaining their 3-2 lead.
The third period saw more heroics from Jones, as the Penguins continued to pour on the shots but couldn’t get the equalizer. Joe Pavelski scored into an empty net for the clincher, his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final.
History is still against the Sharks, as teams that have taken a 3-1 series lead have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 31 of 32 times since 1939. But they will play another day. As Braun said before the game, “You want to earn that next game. You want to earn Game 6. You don’t want it to end tonight.”
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY