ANAHEIM, Calif. — Martin Jones sat near his locker happily chatting after Tuesday night’s game. His cool demeanor was no different than after any other game. From the outside, you never would have guessed that Jones had just won a nine-round shootout in front of a sellout Honda Center crowd in a heated Freeway Faceoff rivalry game.
Not to mention, it was his first career NHL start in the net. Just another day of work for Jones.
“It was a great experience and something I’ve dreamt about for a long time,” Jones said.
“To play an NHL game and to get the win was everything it was cracked up to be.”
Jones’ recap was somewhat of an understatement. One by one, some of the heaviest hitters he had grown up watching in Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne fired his way and he stopped them all.
Jones’ opposition, Jonas Hiller, matched him save-for-save until Dwight King, the Kings’ ninth and final shooter, finally managed to find the net with a high wrist shot for the 3-2 win.
“It’s tough to lose that way,” Hiller said. “I don’t know if he missed a shot a little bit but it kind of caught me right between the pad and my glove. It’s a tough one.”
“The shooters are at a higher level here and I just wanted to try and be patient and stick to what I’ve been doing down there (in the minors),” Martin said. “I was fortunate on a couple and made saves on a couple.”
Jones was told that he would get the start over Ben Scrivens following Monday night’s game. Scrivens had said he felt fine physically and was more than capable of making his 11th-straight start on the second game of a back-to-back stretch but head coach Darryl Sutter decided to give him the rest.
“I think I was probably more nervous than last night than today,” Jones said. “Once you start the day and you start going through your routine, everything is pretty familiar and it’s the same game so I felt pretty good out there.”
Why play Jones when Scrivens has been hot?
“Why not?” Sutter said. “He’s not used to playing every game, he’s starting to let some things slip a bit … It’s good to see (Jones) go out in his first game and get a win.”
His defense did the bulk of the work throughout the regulation, holding off the hard-charging Ducks. Martin saved 26 of 28 shots while the Kings had their way with the Ducks’ defense, firing 51 shots.
In the second period, Jeff Carter and Getzlaf scored less than a minute apart in the game at 1-1. Tied at 2-2 going into overtime, the Kings’ penalty-kill unit fought off the Ducks to take it into a shootout.
“The first 25 minutes or so of the game I barely had any shots,” Jones said. “And then OT, killing penalties and blocking shots — they did a great job out there.”
The Kings have effectively recovered from a rough stretch, winning two straight. Anaheim has now lost two straight in shootouts and have relinquished their hold over the Pacific Division. San Jose leads with 43 points and the Kings are now only a point behind their rival Ducks with 40.
“Obviously, these guys are close to home and there’s a little bit of a rivalry,” King said. “So it’s nice to come away with two points.”
The two will next meet Jan. 23 back in Anaheim, only two days before they square off on neutral ice at Dodger Stadium. As intense as this game was, it may only be a primer for what’s to come next month in the Freeway Faceoff series.