By Mary Walsh
AP photo: San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl celebrates his third period goal against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night
Thanks to two goals from Tomas Hertl and a shootout winner from Logan Couture, the San Jose Sharks came back in the third period to defeat the Nashville Predators 3-2. The win puts the Sharks just three points out of first in the Pacific, but with only three games remaining, the chances are slim that they will catch Los Angeles or Anaheim.
After the game, Sharks goaltender James Reimer talked about how the win bodes well for the playoffs:
It’s good to see. Obviously, sometimes things aren’t going to go your way in the playoffs and so …I’m sure they’ve been doing it all year, but to have the confidence that you can come back from being down two goals in the last twenty, it’s nice to see and another good building block leading up to the playoffs.
With their 27th road win this season, the Sharks tied a franchise record. The last time the Sharks won 27 road games in a season was 2007-08. The Sharks have just one more chance to break the record, on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild.
The third period comeback featured a 13-4 shot disparity in favor of the Sharks. San Jose also made an impressive showing in the faceoff circle, winning 71% of the draws in the game.
The first goal came 8:07 into the first period, after a neutral zone turnover from Chris Tierney that ended up on Roman Josi’s stick. His pass found Mike Ribeiro near the far boards. He waited for Weber to cross the blue line and set him up for one of his phenomenal slap shots.
Before the first period ended, Ryan Johansen seemed to score a power play goal for the Predators, but officials determined that time had run out before the puck crossed the line. The difference was razor thin.
The second Nashville goal came early in the second period. Johansen took the puck into the zone and held onto it long enough to find James Neal in the slot. Neal took a shot that bounced off of Jarnkrok’s skate and into the net. Brenden Dillon had Jarnkrok tied up but he could not control the puck’s trajectory as it went through their skates.
Just over two minutes into the third period, Joe Thornton gained control of the puck just below the Nashville blue line and made a quick pass to Joe Pavelski as he bore down on the net. Pavelski’s shot came back out in a rebound but Hertl was there to pick it up and put it back in for his 20th of the season.
Just past the ten minute mark of the third, Hertl tipped a slap shot from the blue line courtesy of Brent Burns. The play before that was fairly dazzling, as Thornton and Paul Martin moved the puck up and down the boards before Thornton found Burns with a quick pass.
The Sharks could not end it in overtime despite a power play 50 seconds in. A broken stick for Pavelski certainly had something to do with that. The Sharks managed five shots in overtime, while only allowing one to the Predators.
In the shootout, Logan Couture shot first for San Jose and scored with a quick release that went under Hutton’s pad. Joonas Donskoi shot second for the Sharks but missed. James Reimer stopped shots from Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith to win it.
Penalty kills were perfect for both teams, as the Sharks power play went 0-3 and the Predators power play went 0-2.
The Sharks next play in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at 5:00 PT.