San Jose just wasn’t ready to let its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final come to an end. And they won’t be the only team flying back to California. Though they were outplayed in nearly every aspect of Game 5, the Sharks were better where it mattered – on the scoreboard. They were also better in net with goalie Martin Jones standing on his head to force a Game 6.
Bet on the Stanley Cup Playoffs at BookMaker.eu.
Over bettors were feeling pretty good about their chances after the teams combined for five goals in the first period. The output matched the total number of first period goals scored combined in the previous four games of the series. It took another 40 minutes, but an empty-net tally by the Sharks late in the third period cashed the over for the first time in the series.
Back on home ice, the Sharks will be the favorite for Game 6. But considering the Penguins have lost consecutive games in these playoffs just once, and the bounce-back ability of goalie Matt Murray, Pittsburgh looks like a good bet. Besides, the three previous Stanley Cup celebrations came on visitors ice. Why not make it four?
Martin Jones just saved the Sharks season. The young netminder was brilliant Thursday night, stopping 44 shots in a constant barrage by the Penguins to force at least one more game. The night didn’t start out too well for him. After San Jose scored a pair of quick goals, Jones gave it up and the game was tied at 2-2 just five minutes into the first period. Jones settled down, stopping everything after that and frustrating the Pens with 31 saves over the final two periods.
Jones already has his name on the Stanley Cup as a backup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. If the Sharks rally to win this series, he may find his name on the Conn Smythe Trophy as well.
Matt Murray didn’t have a good first period in the Game 5 loss. Brent Burns threw a puck at the net 64 seconds in and snuck it by the Pens goalie, who dropped too fast on the shot – reminiscent of the overtime goal he surrendered in the Game 3 loss. Just under two minutes later, a redirect in front gave San Jose a 2-0 lead. Another goal later in the period and the Sharks took a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Three goals on seven shots. Not great, but in Murray’s self assessment, just fine. He finished with 18 stops and didn’t allow another goal over the final 40 minutes. Murray responded after a frightful Game 3 and is 5-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average and .935 save percentage following a loss this season.
San Jose did what it had to do to stay alive. The Sharks scored early – very early – and even tacked on another before the game was three minutes old. And even though Pittsburgh responded and tied the game with a pair of their own quick goals, the Sharks were able to dent the seemingly impenetrable Murray. The Sharks didn’t have a lot of shots, but they made them count.
Pittsburgh had a 46-22 advantage in shots on goal, and factoring in missed shots and blocks, the Pens had a whopping 76-36 edge. No doubt Jones won this game for the Sharks. The ice was tilted from the opening faceoff and Jones made 19 high-danger saves, which are stops on shots from the slot or low slot. He had more saves on those shots than Murray had total in the game. Don’t expect the Penguins’ snipers to be thwarted as often if given the same number of chances on Sunday.
The Sharks staved off elimination and lived to play another day with their 4-2 Game 5 win. But it wasn’t an inspiring effort by the players not named Martin Jones. San Jose opened with a sense of desperation and got what it needed. A quick goal had the Sharks playing with a lead for the first time in the series. They showed composure by coming back after the Pens tied the game, but, let’s be honest, they were thoroughly outplayed. And they have been the entire series.
Now Jones is a competent goalie. He put up wonderful numbers all season and has continued in the hockey playoffs. But what he did Thursday was ridiculous. If the Sharks expect him to win the series, it ain’t gonna happen. The Penguins have continually gotten chances using their speed and puck movement and the D has locked down San Jose’s scorers. The only change in Game 6 is the play of the goalies, and the Pens will raise the Cup for the fourth time in franchise history.
NHL Odds: Pittsburgh 5, San Jose 2
Load your betting bankroll from your smartphone or tablet with BookMaker's new cashier feature! Depositing and withdrawing funds from your account has never been easier. BookMaker's live betting platform means you always have access to odds and lines to every sporting event. Click here, and start wagering today! The puck drops for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 12, 2016 at SAP Center. The game will be televised live on NBC.