LAS VEGAS—Sharks goalie Martin Jones had the playoff performance of his life, and Tomas Hertl made sure San Jose’s season didn’t end Sunday.
Hertl scored with 8:43 left in the second overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
With the Sharks killing a slashing penalty to Barclay Goodrow, Hertl came across the blue line and fired a shot that eluded Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at the 11:17 mark.
Jones finished with a remarkable 58 saves, as the Sharks leveled the first-round series at three wins apiece and forced a Game 7 on Tuesday night at SAP Center in San Jose.
Both teams had their chances to win in the first extra period, with the Sharks’ best chance coming with 3:20 left. After a wild scramble, Timo Meier put a shot toward the net with Fleury down and out of position. But with the puck just inches from the goal line, both Colin Miller and Shea Theodore slid to stop it. A quick review by officials determined that there was no goal.
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Just moments later, Jones made a point-blank stop on Jonathan Marchessault. Fleury finished with eight saves in overtime and Jones had seven. The Sharks had 29 blocked shots through three periods and overtime. The Golden Knights had 28.
The Sharks were outshot 17-4 in the third period, but didn’t allow the go-ahead goal despite a seemingly relentless Golden Knights forecheck.
The Sharks were largely under siege for the second and third periods, but Jones was tracking the puck as well as he has all series. Jones stopped 16 shots in the second period and 12 more in the first 11 minutes of the third.
Before Sunday, the Sharks had won just once in five playoff games at T-Mobile Arena, a 4-3 double-overtime victory in Game 2 of their second-round series with the Golden Knights last year. The Sharks also beat the Golden Knights here 3-2 on Jan. 10.
“We lean on: We’ve won in here before. We won in here in the playoffs last year and we won in here in the regular season this year,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s the same as them coming into our building.
“You’ve got to deal with the momentum swings and the crowd getting into it, the push we’re going to see right off the bat. The first goal is obviously important to both teams. If we don’t get it, then how we respond to that is going to be critical.”
The team that scored first had won each of the first five games, and after a fairly even first period the Sharks struck in the dying seconds of the first period. Brent Burns went back to retrieve the puck in the corner behind his own goal line and lobbed a pass to centre ice, where Meier was battling for position.
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Meier was able to win the battle and tap the puck to Couture, who came across the Golden Knights blue line, made a move to his right and fired a shot that beat Fleury on his glove hand side to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. It was the first time the Sharks had owned a lead as the visiting team in this series.
In games 3 and 4 at T-Mobile Arena, Fleury stopped 53 of 56 shots, which included a shutout in Game 4 when Vegas chased Jones and won 5-0.
“Be ready as a team,” Meier said Sunday afternoon. “It’s another game where we have the knife right at our throat. It’s a mindset that have to put everything on the ice that we’ve got.”
The Golden Knights turned it up in the second period and tied it up after a Sharks miscue. Erik Karlsson threw a 90-foot pass from just beside the Sharks net, trying to find Joonas Donskoi at the red line. Instead, the Golden Knights sent the puck the other way. After a Vegas forecheck, Marchessault collected the puck and fired it back to Theodore at the Vegas blue line. His shot toward the Sharks net was saved by Jones, but the rebound came to Marchessault, who kicked the puck to his stick and lifted a backhand past the outstretched right pad of Jones for his third goal of the series with 8:40 left in the second period.
The Golden Knights outshot the Sharks 17-7 in the second period, and had 10 shots to San Jose’s one in the first 8:15 of the third period.