Martin Jones' Extraordinary Save against the Sharks
After the Kings game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, it was clear goaltender Martin Jones was the story. He just became the first King goalie to win his first six starts with the team, and he was the third goaltender in NHL history to have three shutouts in his first six starts.
In the dressing room after the game, I asked a couple of questions about Jones' performance from his teammates. What leftwinger Dwight King told me almost had me laughing right on the spot.
"When you've got a confident group of guys in front of a great goalie, it makes for good outcomes," King said. I wanted to tell him to slow his roll on the "great" adjective he used to describe Jones, but I tend to try and be tactful in a media scrum.
Jones' six wins: at Anaheim, vs New York Islanders, at Montreal, at Toronto, at Ottawa vs Edmonton. With the exception of Anaheim, it wasn't like he was facing the best.
But then came this game against the Sharks. Late in the second period, Jones made a mistake and got out of position towards his left as Tommy Wingels wrapped around the net and attempted to stuff the puck in to Jones' right side.
By this time Jones was on his stomach, and he couldn't get over to cover the open net. The puck just got behind Jones' tardy left leg. The puck seemed destined to get through.
Defenseman Slava Voynov, seeing Jones lying on the ice, tried to get his stick on the puck to prevent it from going through. But he just missed it by inches.
Then somehow, Jones had the wherewithal to get his left arm behind the puck just as it touched the goal line and pushed it against his body. The referee standing right behind the net with a perfect view of the happening.
From my perch in the press box high on top of the STAPLES Center, that puck was going in. When the referee waved his arms calling the play dead with no goal, my jaw dropped. How in the world did that not go through?
Even Jones didn't know if the puck went in. "I couldn't tell until I saw the replay," he said.
The play was reviewed in Toronto, but I think that was more for the benefit of the sold-out STAPLES Center crowd of 18,118 to gawk in wonder of their new goaltender.
For Tyler Toffoli none of this surprises him. Teammates with the Kings American Hockey League affiliate Manchester Monarchs for the last two years, he seen this before.
"Jones has been unbelievable the last two years I've been with him," Toffoli said. The patience and calmness in the crease? "It's just the way he is. He's such a big goalie, he's always in the right spot."
That save buffered the disappointment of allowing a Patrick Marleau goal in the final three minutes. Besides the Kings had a dominant 4-0 lead at the time. Unless there was a complete collapse, the Kings weren't going to lose this game.
Nearly everyone contributed: Alec Martinez with a rare goal in the second period to open the scoring. Toffoli had a goal and an assist. In fact that goal was a beauty.
The Kings 4-1 win was a bit of a surprise in this series with the Sharks. Not the fact that they won. In the last 22 games including the playoffs, the home team had won 21 times. The surprise was that in nine of those games, overtime or a shootout was needed to determine the winner.
So now Jones is 7-0-0. The NHL record for consecutive wins to start a career is Bob Froese who went 8-0-0 with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982-83.