Martin Jones revealed on Friday that his strong game in March was no accident.
Jones finished the game with 30 saves, including 21 in the first two periods when Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at the Staples Center and got within three points of the Arizona Coyotes for fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division were moving.
It was Jones’ second shutout of the season and the 25th of his career. San Jose (16-16-4, 36 points) is now alone in sixth place in the division, two points ahead of Los Angeles (14-15-6).
Tomas Hertl scored in the first half and Timo Meier in the second as the Sharks won their third game in a row after winning a two-game series with the Minnesota Wild at home earlier this week.
Rudolfs Balcers assisted the Sharks with the first two goals and added 26.5 seconds in the third half when this line with Hertl and Meier drove the bus offensively. The sharks and kings will play again on Saturday night.
Jones saved up for the Sharks at the right time.
Jones stopped two shots from near Adrian Kempe in the first phase to keep the Sharks around a Goa and made two similar stops at Trevor Moore in the second phase. He also saved shorthanded recordings of Blake Lizotte and Jaret Anderson-Dolan.
Jones had a 6-2-1 record in 10 games in March with a savings of 0.922 percent and an average of 2.52 goals against the average. The Sharks as a whole took the lead 8-7-2 in the month and held up their post-season hopes after starting 7-9-2 in the first six weeks of the season.
A little more than his last seven starts before Friday, Jones was 5-1-1 with a GAA of 2.10 and a saving of 0.937 percent and a shutout.
The Sharks are now a combined 8-1-1 against the Kings and Anaheim Ducks this season. That’s a good sign considering what’s on the menu for San Jose.
After Saturday, the Haie will play the Ducks on Tuesday to kick off a five-game homestand that continued with games against the Kings on April 9th and 10th and again against Anaheim on April 12th and 14th.
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead at 2:57 in the first half when Hertl scored his eleventh goal of the season.
Nikolai Knyzhov took a pass from Rudolfs Balcers along the wall within the Kings zone and threw a puck towards the net, which Hertl tipped past goalkeeper Cal Petersen.
It was important for the Sharks to take the early lead. The Kings arrived on Friday with an 11-2-0 record that season when they scored the first goal and only a 3-12-6 mark when they fell back to start. Los Angeles likes to use a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap, which becomes more effective when they take the lead.
“You have to wear down such teams,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner on Friday morning. “You have to let them defend, you have to let them spin and you have to be willing to leave pucks behind because they are in this 1-3-1 and will bottle up that neutral zone.
“If you think you’re going to wear it through the neutral zone all night, then they’ll make you flip pucks. We have to follow the game plan. ”