Sharks Fall to Predators 5-2 in Nashville

mercurynews.com photo

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 5-2 to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville goals came from Roman Josi (2), Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for the win. Evander Kane and Brent Burns scored for San Jose, while Martin Jones made 20 saves in the loss. The Sharks are still looking for a win this season after four losses.

The only first period goal went to Nashville, at 6:16. Roman Josi scored after making a neutral zone pass to Colton Sissons, who carried the puck into the zone and then passed it back and into the slot. Josi was there to put it away. Assists went to Sissons and Ryan Ellis.

There was just one power play in the first period, a penalty to the Sharks’ Evander Kane for interference. The Predators outshot the Sharks 9-7 in the first.

In the second period, Josi scored again on a mid-period power play. Brenden Dillon was in the box for slashing Filip Forsberg at 9:40. A pass from the corner found Forsberg wide open in the faceoff circle, but his shot went off the post and bounced into the blue paint, where Marc-Edouard Vlasic swept it away, into the slot. Josi was there to shoot it back in for the goal.

The Sharks got their own power play goal at 15:12. Matt Duchene was called for interference on Kevin Labanc. A quick play off the faceoff moved the puck to Burns at the point. He moved along the blue line as if to pass ahead, then moved the puck back to Logan Couture, who took a shot from the point. Evander Kane tipped it in for his first of the year. Assists went to Couture and Burns.

The Sharks killed two of three penalties in the second period, and Nashville did the same. The Sharks outshot the Predators 18-7 in the period.

The Sharks started the third period with some good chances, but it was Nashville who scored at 2:51. A neutral zone breakdown allowed Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok to go in two on one. Turris took the shot to give Nashvillea 3-1 lead. Rocco Grimaldi got the assist.

Nashville made it 4-1 at 7:24. Matt Duchene followed the puck down the slot and made a quick backhand pass across to Forsberg on the wing. Forsberg took the shot and beat Jones on the stick side as he came across. Assists went to Duchene and Mikael Granlund.

Brent Burns got one back for the Sharks at 15:37. The Sharks drew all of the Nashville defense off to one side with their forecheck. The puck slipped out across the ice, where Burns picked it up and shot it in with a hard wrist shot. Assists went to Lean Bergmann and Dylan Gambrell.

Dante Fabbro made it 5-2 with a shot all the way down the ice, in an empty net at 18:19. An assist went to Ryan Johansen.

The Sharks outshot the Predators 10-9 in the third, 35-25 in the game.

The Sharks next play against the Blackhawks in Chicago on Thursday at 5:30 PM PT.

Sharks Finish Off Preds With 5 Goal Shutout

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski scores first goal of the game in the first period against the Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber at SAP Center Thursday night

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks came up with a resounding Game Seven win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. The 5-0 victory means that the Sharks will advance to face the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Finals. It is somewhat surprising that both of the NHL’s 2016 Western Conference finalists won their second round series in Game Sevens by a margin of five goals. After the Blues defeated Dallas on Wednesday 6-1, the odds had to be long against the Sharks accomplishing a similar feat a day later. But they did.

It has been a while since the Sharks went to the Conference Final. The Sharks’ Logan Couture offered an insight into how he is approaching the next step:

My first two years we made it to Conference Finals, you think it’s easy. You think it’s going to come every year and it doesn’t. So I think it makes you realize that you’ve really got to take advantage of the chances that you do. When you get there you have a very good team, you’ve got to take advantage of it.

A 5-0 victory was not what anyone expected between San Jose and Nashville in Game 7. The teams were pretty well matched through six games, and had fought their way to a third overtime period once. Martin Jones played well, but only faced 20 shots, 12 of those coming in the third period. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne was relieved half way through the third period. The Sharks’ best players were their best players, while Nashville’s were not. Sharks goals came from five different players and the power play to boot. Logan Couture set a new franchise record for points in a playoff series with his eleventh on Thursday.

After the game, Joe Thornton pointed to the Sharks’ depth as key to the win and the series success:

We roll four lines, we roll 16. I think we have so much trust with each other that whoever goes over that board we just have confidence will do the job. You saw it tonight.

A quick look at the game stats reveals a comparatively flat ice time distribution for the Sharks forwards. Thornton saw the most ice time at 17:04, while Dainius Zubrus had the least at 12:58. The confidence and trust that Thornton describes seems to be well placed. None of the lines looked particularly vulnerable against the Predators on Thursday.

It was hard to reconcile the Sharks team we saw Thursday with the one seen in Nashville on Monday, when the Predators came away with the overtime win in Game 6. Logan Couture explained:

I think guys just wanted to get out there and put that game six behind us and move on and we were saying just establish the forecheck, get it in on their D. Make this building tough to play in like it’s been in the past and that’s what we did.

Tommy Wingels was back in the lineup after sitting out two games. He had a nice breakaway early in the first. His shot bounced out of Rinne’s glove for an enticing rebound, but no one was there to take advantage of it for the Sharks. That was slightly anomalous for the first five minutes of the game, as the Sharks outshot the Predators 6-1. The teams spent the majority of that time in the Nashville zone.

The Sharks got their first power play at 8:22 of the period, at which time the Predators still only had one shot on goal. It was a cruel but bloodless penalty for the Predators: Viktor Arvidsson went to the box for sending the puck over the glass. The Sharks had a hard time getting their power play rolling. In the first 12 seconds, they struggled to keep the puck in, then the Predators sent it onto the bench and they just could not get things going.

25 or so seconds later, Thornton made a pass from the half wall to Marlowe on the goal line. Marlowe made a quick pass back up to Pavelski in front of the net and Pavelski put it home on the far top corner. It was Pavelski’s ninth goal of the playoffs. Assists went to Marlowe and Thornton.

The Predators took their second shot some time in the tenth minute of the period. They still had not taken a third when Marc-Edouard Vlasic knocked the puck off a Nashville stick. Melker Karlsson picked it up and sent Joel Ward in on a breakaway. Ward skated around defender Roman Jossi, then delayed long enough to draw Rinne out of the crease, and put the puck behind the goalie to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. There were just over three minutes remaining in the first. Assists went to Melker Karlsson. It was Ward’s second goal of the playoffs.

With 1:38 remining in the first, Nashville’s Shea Weber went to the box for interference against Dainius Zubrus, giving the Sharks a second power play. The Sharks did not score, leaving just 22 seconds on the power play to start the second period.

At the end of the first, the shots were 17-3 San Jose. In the faceoff circle, the Sharks imnproved significantly over previous games in this series, winning 67% of the draws.

The Sharks did not score during those last 22 seconds of power play time, but 14 seconds later Logan Couture picked up a misplayed puck and skated in to score his seventh of the playoffs.

The Sharks followed that up with a tremendous couple of minutes, capped by an attack from San Jose’s fourth line that had Pekka Rinne all out of sorts. A couple of chances found Rinne out of his net but the puck bounced over the cross bar each time.

Five minutes into the second period, the Sharks were leading by three goals and 13 shots. Twelve minutes in and the Predators were looking completely overmatched. The Sharks did not exactly ressemble the Globetrotters but they were moving the puck around the Nashville zone without much resistance at all. Nashville blocked their shots and kept them away from rebounds, but that seemed to be all they could do.

At the end of the second period, Mattias Ekholm was called for cross-checking Tommy Wingels, so the Sharks started the third on another power play.

32 seconds into that power play, the Sharks entered the zone four on one. Logan Couture had a chance to carry the puck into the slot and take a shot. The puck hit Rinne’s pads and stalled just outside the goal line, and Joe Thornton was right there to touch it in the rest of the way. It was Thornton’s third of the post season, and Couture received the only assist.

If a three goal lead is dangerous, then you could say that Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture put the game back into the safe zone fifth goal at 3:54 of the third. A quick pass up ice from Joonas Donskoi sent Marleau and Couture away on a two on one. The Sharks skaters played the puck back and forth and got Rinne sliding across. Marleau put the puck over him for his fourth of the playoffs.

Carter Hutton came in to replace Rinne after that.

With 5:26 to go in the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun was called for interference, giving the Predators their first power play, but it did not change the outcome.

The Sharks will start their series against the Blues on Sunday in St. Louis at 5:00 PT.

Sharks Hang On To Beat Predators 3-2, Take 2-0 Series Lead

By Mary Walsh

USA Today photo: San Jose Sharks Martin Jones stops a shot by the Nashville Predators in game two at SAP Center on Sunday

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Sharks took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-2 victory against the Nashville Predators. Four of the goals were scored in the second half of the third, three of those in the final three minutes. It was not the Sharks’ best game, defensively or offensively, but it got the job done. After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said as much:

We won and in the playoffs you’ve got to win all kinds of different ways. I really liked our first period. I thought their desperation level was just a little bit higher than ours in the second and third. I think that’s what you saw, and rightfully so. You got a team that is facing going down two game and no one wants to lose the first two game of a series. We knew their desperation level was going to be high and we found a way to weather it and Jonesy was fantastic and the important this is we won.

The win was significant also for being a home game. Not only have the Sharks been better on the road, but the Nashville Predators have too, at least in the first round of these playoffs. The Sharks were out shot and out hit on Sunday but they won where it mattered. Goals were scored by Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and a game winner from Joe Thornton. Martin Jones made 37 saves for the win. Mattias Eckholm and Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves.

Craig Smith was back in the Nashville lineup after missing Game 1. The first period did not look anything like the first period of the first game. This time, both teams started fast and earned chances early. They were slim chances, with no one having much room to choose a shot or get in position to make a play.

The Sharks were the beneficiary of that speedy play, in the form of an early power play. Roman Josi was called for cross-checking Chris Tierney at 6:24. The Sharks’ power play started out very well, with the Predators giving San Jose plenty of room to get set up. A rather cavalier behind-the-back pass from Joe Thornton to Logan Couture exemplified how composed the Sharks were with the man advantage. Yet that excess of time and space did not benefit the Sharks in the most practical sense: they did not score.

At even strength, the fourth line was very effective, making the Nashvile defense burn a lot of defensive fuel and block shots.

The Sharks went on the penalty kill at 13:38 when Joel Ward was called for tripping. Karlsson got the first clear, Couture the second, Dillon a third. The Predators got three shots through to Jones but he stopped them.

As the first ended, the Predators led the Sharks in shots by 10-7. That count did not include the ten shots that Nashville blocked. The Sharks had blocked five.

The Sharks started the second mostly trapped in their own zone. When they finally escaped, they came out with their best chance to that point. Couture and Donskoi went fast down the left wing and Couture managed to get a shot off. Rinne kicked out a rebound but Donskoi could not elevate it enough to beat Rinne’s right pad.

As the second period wore on, the Predators dominated on the shot clock and continued to block shots. By the 13 minute mark, Nashville had 11 shots to the Sharks’ 4.

At 15:16, the Sharks were penalized for too many men on the ice. The penalty kill started out fairly chaotic, with a snarl of bodies just in front of the blue paint. Finally they got untangled, with broken sticks sliding around and no one really able to control the puck. From that helter-skelter start, the Sharks pulled off another kill that ended with a short handed chance. Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic made a nice play but Rinne stopped them.

The Predators took their own too many men penalty shortly thereafter. Trying to avoid the call, Roman Josi tried to get off the ice by climbing over the wall in front of the Sharks bench. That did not pass muster. After the game, DeBoer was asked about the incident: “I’ve never seen that before. 25-30 years of hockey, and I’ve never seen that situation before. I don’t know, it’s a good question. I’m assuming it’s a rule, that they’re not allowed to change into our bench.”

32 seconds into that power play, a Brent Burns shot produced a rebound for Logan Couture to put away. Couture had been lurking around behind the net, making an inconspicious pass or two, then moving in front of the net just as the puck made its way to Burns. Burns did not have to wait long after receiving the puck from Thornton before taking his shot. Pavelski deflected the shot which created a rebound for Couture, who had an open net. It was Couture’s fourth goal of the playoffs. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

At the end of the second period, the Sharks led 1-0, despite their shot deficit of 16-25 for the game. The Sharks had blocked ten shots in the second, while the Predators had blocked twelve.

The Sharks found themselves short handed again 6:34 into the third. Brenden Dillon was called for roughing. He Just 23 seconds into the kill, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was hit in the head by a Shea Weber shot. He stayed down for a spell before returning to the bench. He did not go to the room.

At 12:56 of the third, Nashville tied it up. Mattias Eckholm took a shot from the blue line, just as three skaters converged in front of Martin Jones. The shot went just wide of Jones’ glove.

The Sharks got it back at 17:23. Thornton skated into the slot and passed the puck to Matt Nieto on the wing. Nieto waited until the last moment to take a shot. Rinne stopped the shot but it bounced off of a Nashville skater and landed in front of Joe Pavelski. He put it where it belonged. It was an unlocky bounce for Nashville, especially coming so late in the game. Assists went to Nieto and Thornton.

The Predators responded by pulling Rinne with more than two minutes to go. They sustained pressure for about a minute before a puck went over the glass and Nashville used their time out. When play resumed with a defensive zone draw for the Sharks, Pavelski controlled the puck and passed it out of the zone. Joe Thornton was on his way through the neutral zone when Pavelski’s pass found him. Thornton took his time and put the puck in the empty net.

Nashville responded with a furious attack on the Sharks’ net. With just 1.6 seconds to go, Ryan Johansen scored, making Thornton’s empty net goal the game winner.

The series now moves to Nashville for Game Three on Tuesday at 6:00 PT.

————————–

In case you missed the black cat tale from Game 1, you can read the updated version with video at NHL.com here: Sharks working to find home for ‘Joe Paw-velski’

NHL Playoffs, Game 1, Round 2: Sharks Take Preds Down 5-2

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joel Ward 42 celebrates scoring goal with teammates in third period in game one at SAP Center

SAN JOSE– The Sharks beat the Nashville Predators in the first game of the NHL’s Western Conference Semi-Finals. The Sharks won by a score of 5-2, with goals from four different shooters. Logan Couture scored a power play goal and an empty netter. Tomas Hertl, Joel Ward and Tommy Wingels all added to the tally. Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 33 saves on 36 shots. Martin Jones made 29 saves for the Sharks on 31 Nashville shots.

The Sharks looked tentative in the first period, as did the Predators. Perhaps the teams were feeling each other out, perhaps the Sharks were rusty and the Preds tired, but not very much happened in the first period. By the third period, the Sharks were firing on all cylinders and running away with the game. Sharks fans can only hope this is indicative of how the team will play this series.

The game was uneventful until one of the Nashville skaters tripped over a breaking Sharks and fell into Pekka Rinne, taking out the goalie and his net. That play was reviewed but no goal was awarded.

The next noteworthy event was a penalty called against Melker Karlsson for hooking. The Sharks’ penalty kill started pretty well, with play moving out of the Sharks zone and into the Predators’ zone for a good part of a shift. Nashville eventually made it back in and stayed a spell but the Sharks did not give them much to shoot at. Nashville had a couple of better chances just after the penalty expired but the Sharks kept the puck out of their net.

The Sharks made a good push during the final minutes of the first period, hemming the Preds in and evening up the shot count. For most of the period, the Sharks trailed in shots by a few. At the end of the period, the Predators led 12-11, but the score was still tied at nil.

The second period started out stoppage-heavy. It seemed like one every 10 seconds but that probably was not the case. At 2:45, Matt Nieto was called for tripping Colin Wilson, which the crowd booed with gusto.

The Sharks’ penalty kill looked like it would be successful, with the Predators being evicted frequently from the offensive zone. In the final seconds of the power play, the Predators took the lead. Mike Fisher caught a pass from Ryan Johansen and held the puck for a moment while drifting backwards into the faceoff circle. He took his shot and it went by three Sharks, including Martin Jones.

The Sharks’ first power play came from an interference call on Eric Nystrom at 5:31. The Sharks’ power play did not score but it was a sight to see. The Predators got the puck out in the first 10 seconds and then not again until the last few. The Sharks put a lot of shots at the net, though few got through. The penalty killers blocked a lot of shots and looked weary by the end of it.

Trailing by a goal, the Sharks did wake up. The Predators did not have a shot on goal [between 11:03 and 2:11 left.], and then they had two before the period ended.

Fifty seconds into the third period, Ryan Johansen was called for holding and the Sharks went on their second power play. This power play did not start up as well as their first power play. It took the Sharks good forty seconds to finally get set up, and then Nashville booted them out after just a couple of chances. The second unit came on (Ward, Vlasic, Hertl, Donskoi and Martin) and changed things up. They started by carrying the puck over the line instead of dumping it in. After that, they survived a broken stick, holding the zone while it was replaced. As the penalty time ran down, Joel Ward took a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and sent it along to Tomas Hertl. Hertl was posted at the corner of the net and quickly put it past Rinne to tie the game. Assists went to Ward and Vlasic.

Ward picked up another point almost ten minutes later, when he took a pass from Joonas Donskoi as they skated into the zone. Ward had enough space to duck one way and go the other, freezing Rinne at the top of his crease. Ward then put the puck behind the goaltender, who reached back with his glove and either missed the puck or knocked it in. It was Ward’s first goal of this post-season, with assists to Donskoi and Brent Burns.

Things deteriorated from there for Nashville. With 4:40 left in the game, Calle Jarnkrok was called for high-sticking Donskoi. Seconds into the power play, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski skated in, moved the puck back and forth a couple of times, and scored again. It was Logan Couture’s goal, that he lifted lightly over Rinne’s pad from close range.

Nashville pulled Rinne with more than two minutes left, and with just under two minutes left, a bouncing puck went over Martin Jones to bring the Predators back within a goal. They kept their net empty. A few seconds after the next faceoff, Logan Couture took advantage of that and restored the Sharks’ two-goal lead.

Tommy Wingels added yet another, in a similar manner but on the other side of the ice. After that, the Predators put backup goaltender Carter Hutton in the net to prevent yet a third empty net goal.

The final shot count was 38-31 Sharks.

Game Two will be on Sunday at 5:00 PT at SAP Center in San Jose.

 

Sharks v. Predators: NHL Playoffs 2nd Round Preview

By Mary Walsh

SB Nation photo: Nashville Predators come calling at SAP Center in San Jose against hosts the Sharks in game one of second round

“Sharks versus Predators” sounds a little bit like a made for tv monster movie, but the San Jose Sharks will face the Nashville Predators to start the second round of the NHL Playoffs on Friday.

The Predators came out of the Central Division as a wild card, so the Sharks did not see as much of them in the regular season as they saw of their first round Pacific Division opponent, the Los Angeles Kings. Nashville’s wild card status also gives San Jose home ice. The Sharks will have to do without their road advantage to win this series.

Probably the most important information to glean from the first round is the most obvious: the Predators played seven games, while the Sharks played only five. The Predators spent more travel time going between Nashville and Anaheim, while the Sharks traveled back and forth to Los Angeles. Round One put more mileage on the Predators than the Sharks by a big margin.

Another question would be about goaltending. Pekka Rinne has long been considered one of the league’s top goaltenders, despite his team’s conspicuous lack of playoff success. Martin Jones has performed admirably so far, despite this being his first time as a playoff starter. Neither goalie has been perfect but they have both been crucial to their team’s success.

Pekka Rinne gave up 17 goals through seven games, with a save percentage of .915. Martin Jones gave up 11 goals through five games, with a save percentage of .912. Martin Jones’ 2.18 GAA ranks fifth among playoff goalies, while Rinne’s 2.85 ranks ninth. Their save percentages are seventh and eighth in the same field.

Noteworthy in the rankings of 2016 playoff goaltenders is that two of the top three goalies in save statistics played for teams that have been eliminated. Maybe goaltending statistics do not tell you much about how a series will go.

Both Rinne and Jones finished all of their first round games, so the quality of their backups has not been an issue. If it were, I would give the edge to the Sharks’ James Reimer over the Predators’ Carter Hutton.

On paper, the Sharks have a better record in most categories than the Predators, in both the regular season and the first round. The Sharks scored more against a Pacific Division team than the Predators. But the Predators have not been and still are not an offense-first team. Much of their success comes from stingy defense. The Predators are a completely different kind of opponent than the Kings were.

In the few meetings between San Jose and Nashville this season, the Sharks lost the series 2-1. Their one win was in a shootout, and they lost one game 6-2. The Sharks have not fared well against the Predators. There is a glimmer of hope in that record, that the shootout win was the most recent game, played just 26 days ago. It caught the Sharks on the upswing, which is where they started these playoffs. It is reasonable to put more stock in the April 4th game than in the February 6th game, but those six goals have to be in the back of the Sharks’ minds. While the Kings are generally considered a more offensively loaded team than the Predators, the Kings that the Sharks played were not as they were a couple of seasons ago.

Colin Wilson and Shea Weber led the Preds in the first round with five points each. Goal scoring was pretty spread out, with Wilson, Weber, James Neal and Mattias Ekholm each scoring two goals. Six other skaters, including Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen scored goals against the Ducks. Forsberg and Johansen were both scoring at a good clip during the regular season so they bear watching. Defenseman Roman Josi was second in points during the regular season and he had three against the Ducks.

Craig Smith also scored a goal for the Predators, but missed two games and most of a third with an injury. The Predators did not win the games he missed. He was third on the team in goals scored with 21 in the regular season. He played the last two games in the Ducks series without much of a drop in minutes, so the Sharks can probably expect to see him on Friday.

The Sharks had more points as a group, though they played two fewer games than Nashville did. Brent Burns had eight points in the first round, with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture collecting six apiece. Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward each had four and Joonas Donskoi and Joe Thornton each had three. That last one is a surprise, and Nashville will probably pay as much attention to Thornton as the Kings did to keep his numbers low.

Donskoi could also be considered a surprise, but a happy one for Sharks fans. His playoff performance might be attributed to a couple of things.Donskoi was a consistent points producer all season, and his time in the Finnish league cannot be overlooked. It could not have been assumed that his MVP performance in the Finnish playoffs would translate to success in the NHL playoffs, but it was a strong possibility.

Another factor that benefitted Donskoi is the fact that the Kings did not have the depth to match the Sharks. Do the Predators? Can they keep Joe Thornton in check and also stay on top of Donskoi, and for that matter, the likes of Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson and Matt Nieto? Those three scored goals against the Kings. I don’t believe the Predators will have an easy time of it keeping all of the Sharks shooters off the board.

How successful will they be against the Sharks defense? The Sharks gave up almost as many goals as they scored in the first round. In total, they scored 16 and gave up 11, which does not seem that close unless you look at it in goals per game, where there is a difference of just one: 3.2 goals for and 2.2 goals against. One goal is enough to win the game but it leaves little margin for error.

The Sharks’ power play was pretty good against the Kings, at 23.8%. Their penalty kill was nothing special, with a 78.6% success rate. Nashville’s power play success was tiny, at 3.8%, but their penalty kill chugged along at 84% against the Ducks’ formidable power play.

The Predators scored a miniscule 0.13 more goals than they gave up in the regular season. In the first round, their numbers dipped into the negative as they scored 14 goals but gave up 18.

This is the challenge for the Sharks, to ignore what happened in the first round. The team with the most goals wins, but somehow the Predators turned that rule on its head. Obviously, the numbers are explained by a couple of bad losses that skewed the averages. That would be the second and third games where they lost by three goals both times. They also won one by 3-0, and then, like the Sharks, usually won by a single goal.

I think the Sharks’ offensive depth will again be their best asset. That is always a safe bet, but with a stifling defensive opponent like the Predators, nothing is certain.

Sharks Fall Prey to Nashville in 6-2 Road Loss

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: Nashville’s Flip Forsberg celebrates with teammates after scoring third period goal against San Jose Saturday night

Despite a strong first period, the San Jose Sharks lost by a score of 6-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Sharks goals came from Joe Thornton, his 200th as a Shark, and Logan Couture. Predators goals came from Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 28 saves on 30 shots. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 24 saves on 29 shots.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

We established our game early, I think the shots were 10-1 there for a while, and with some good looks. We didn’t find that way early, and stayed with it. We’re right there. They go up 2-0, no one quit and we got the next one. We had a good feeling I think in the room, it’s just it went the other way in a hurry. You have nights like that I guess but we’ve got to get back in the win column next game.

Logan Couture also said that the game did not feel like a 6-2 game:

It felt like we were in it for most of the game, a break here a break there. Their short-handed goal goes off the stanchion and they get a three on one going the other way. They got some of those breaks. It’ unfortunate, I thought we played well for the majority of the game.

The Sharks started the game with a lot of energy and seemed to be running around the Predators at both ends of the ice. San Jose had a power play very early, but failed to score. The first goal went to the Predators, at 13:12 of the first period, when Ryan Johansen made a pass off a spin-o-rama behind the net. His pass found James Neal, who took a quick shot through a screen to beat Martin Jones. Assists went to Johansen and

The Predators extended their lead in the second period when Johansen found Calle Jarnkrok wide open in the middle of the slot. Jarnkrok’s shot bounced up after hitting Jones and went over him to score. Johansen had the lone assist.

The Sharks got one back on the power play at 15:41 of the second. The goal came with just eight seconds left in the power play. Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a shot that went through the crease and bounced off of Nashville defenseman Weber. Thornton was below the goal line and reached his stick forward to catch the puck mid air and guide it in. Assists went to Vlasic and Logan Couture.

Less than two minutes later, Victor Arvidsson scored by way of a three on two. He cross the blue line carrying the puck while skating backwards. He turned by the faceoff circle, tripped and shot in one motion. Assists went to Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg.

The same line extended the Predators lead to three 6:51 into the third period. This time it was Filip Forsberg with a short-handed goal. The Sharks were on a power play with Cody Bass in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct. A clearing attempt by Shea Weber hit a stanchion and bounced across the ice to Forsberg who had more space than he needed to skate up the ice. Two Predators followed quickly, making it a three on two as the reached the firing line. Forsberg opted for the shot over a pass to give his team a 4-1 lead. Weber had the lone assist.

Less than two minutes later, Arvidsson and Forsberg again entered the Sharks zone two on one. Forsberg’s pass went by two Sharks trying to catch up and found Arvidsson on the right wing. He held on to the puck as he skated across in front of the net and then put it in with a backhand. Forsberg and Ribeiro both had assists.

The Sharks’ second goal came in the Sharks sixth power play of the game. In the final two seconds of the penalty, Couture caught a pass from Thornton and took a shot while dropping to his knees above the faceoff circle. Assists to Thornton and Dylan DeMelo.

Shea Weber scored the final goal of the game, into a net that was empty early. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer opted to pull Jones with almost five minutes remaining in the game.
The Sharks road trip continues and they play next in Chicago against the Blackhawks, at 5:30 PT on Tuesday.

Sharks Shut Out Predators 2-0

AP Photo/Ben Margot

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0. A goal from Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks the lead midway through the first period and they never gave it back. In the final minutes, Joe Thornton added the insurance goal. Antti Niemi made 29 saves for the shutout win. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne made 32 saves on 33 shots to keep his team in the game.

This season’s Predators are a turbo-charged version of the Nashville teams the Sharks have faced for several seasons now. Always defensively formidable, this year’s Preds have just enough extra offense to increase their goal scoring without taking anything away from their defensive play. They are a model for anyone wondering how important defense is to offense.

Saturday, those turbo engines misfired. Not only did the Predators fail to score or take many shots, they also took an uncharacteristic number of penalties, and there were times when the Sharks ran their defense ragged.

The Sharks were in rare form. They blocked almost as many shots as the Predators took, and won 46 of 72 faceoffs. They outshot the Predators 34-29, but through the first two periods that count was 29-11. After the game, Joe Thornton talked about the Sharks’ good start: “You try to get off to a good start every night but just sometimes it happens better than other nights for whatever reason. Tonight was one of those nights when we started fast and it won the game for us probably.”

Oddly, this year’s Predators have a habit of giving up the first goal of the game. It is a peculiar pattern, considering they entered Saturday’s contest second in the very tough Central Division.

They gave up that first goal again Saturday, when Joe Thornton picked up a dump in from Scott Hannan. He passed it to Joe Pavelski, who shot it, creating a rebound that Tomas Hertl could pick up as he came acorss in front of the crease. It was Hertl’s seventh goal of the season.

The Predators are not in the habit of taking penalties. They had the fewest overall in the NHL, before Saturday. Their average penalty minutes per game was 7.1. On Saturday they had 11 penalty minutes before the second period was over. The Sharks had the same number but their average has been higher at 10.5 per game.
The Sharks took the first penalty of the game at 6:04 of the first, a hooking call on Chris Tierney.

By the midpoint of the first period, the shot count was 11-3 Sharks.

The Sharks also took the second penalty, a slashing call to Barclay Goodrow. That call came at 17:13 of the period. Before that was over, Tommy Wingels and James Neal had a bout, which earned each the usual five minutes, with an additional two minutes for Neal for cross-checking.

The period ended with the Sharks up 1-0 and ahead in shots 18-7.

The Sharks started the second period with a little over a minute of power play time. They had a few good passes but they did not register a shot.

The Sharks’ next power play opportunity came at at 7:54 of the second, a hooking call on Nashville defenseman Seth Jones. That power play started very well, with the Predators getting in the way of some good chances for the Sharks, without being able to push the Sharks out of the zone. The second minute of the penalty was less noteworthy, with the second power play unit unable to get set up. The first unit took over again for the last half minute or so but the scrore remained unchanged at 1-0 Sharks.

Mike Fisher took the next penalty for the Predators, two minutes for high sticking. At the same time, James Sheppard was called for holding the stick. The resulting four on four started out in the Sharks’ zone but the Preds were pushed out without getting any shots on net. The Sharks spent their time in the Nashville end a little more productively, getting credit for three shots.

Through the course of the second period, the Predators only got four shots on net to the Sharks’ eleven.

At 4:25 of the third, Justin Braun was called for holding in an encounter that put Ryan Ellis on his posterior right in front of Antti Niemi. Braun was not happy about the call but it did eliminate a scoring chance. The Sharks penalty killers outdid themselves keeping the Predators from ever sustaining pressure on the power play, though they did add a few shots to their count.

At 12:28 of the period, James Sheppard and Shea Webber took turns throwing cross checks. Sheppard cross checked Craig Smith, and Weber cross-checked Sheppard.  They went to their respective boxes for two minutes. Neither team scored.

The Predators could not score with their goalie pulled either, and at 18:26 Joe Thornton took advantage of the absent netminder to score the empty netter.

The period came to a close in a flurry of whistles and penalties. At 19:39, James Neal was called for embellishment, Ryan Ellis was given a 10 minute misconduct, Barclay Goodrow got one of those as well and a two minute slashing penalty.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with seven. Tommy Wingels led the team with six hits and Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocked a team high of five shots.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 PT on Thursday the 18th, when they will host the Edmonton Oilers again at SAP Center.