PITTSBURGH — The Penguins were ready to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup at home for the first time in franchise history.
But Martin Jones spoiled the party.
In a wild affair that saw four goals scored in the first five minutes, the Sharks stayed alive in the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 win in Game 5, ruining what was supposed to be a historic night in Pittsburgh.
Melker Karlsson scored the game-winning goal late in the first period, capping off an eventful 20 minutes in which he, Brent Burns Logan Couture, Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin all found the back of the net.
Joe Pavelski scored the insurance marker into an empty net late in the third period, sending the series back to the Bay Area.
For the Sharks, the victory was hardly an oil painting, They were thoroughly out-shot and out-possessed.
But for Jones, it was the Mona Lisa.
The San Jose netminder was brilliant on the night, stopping 44 of 46 shots to set a franchise record for most saves in a playoff regulation game.
And at no time was Jones better than in the second period, when he made 17 saves — several of the highlight variety, like this one on Nick Bonino:
Jones was the difference all night long.
In the other goal, it was a different story.
Matt Murray struggled in the biggest game of his career, allowing three goals on his first seven shots faced. Burns’ opener was eerily reminiscent to Jonas Donskoi’s OT winner in Game 3 — high, over his shoulder — and many onlookers had Murray on the hook for Karlsson’s game-winner.
Looking ahead, it’ll be curious to see how Pittsburgh responds to an incredibly disappointing evening. While the club couldn’t be faulted for its effort or scoring chance generation — heck, the Pens were all over the Sharks tonight — there was a real, feverish sense of excitement prior to Game 5, as the city came alive with the potential of clinching the first Pittsburgh title at home since 1960.
Hordes of fans crowded the streets of Pittsburgh for public viewing parties, only to leave dejected.
For the Sharks, there are plenty of positives to build on.
Jones maintained his status as the best San Jose player in this series, and now has a sparkling .933 save percentage (167 saves on 179 shots).
Burns, Couture and Pavelski all scored their first goals of the series, bumping elongated slumps.
But most importantly, the Sharks stayed alive. They went into Game 5 with the mindset of winning one game, sending the series back to San Jose.
And much to the chagrin of Penguins fans, they did exactly that.