The Nashville Predators took down the San Jose Sharks easily by the score of 4-1 after scoring four straight unanswered goals. Nashville played a great all-around game and easily won in front of their home crowd. This loss was San Jose’s first road loss of the playoffs.
The Predators looked to use home ice advantage in their favor to get back in the series. They even had Tennessee Titans superstar quarterback Marcus Mariota appear before the game on the ice to get the crowd pumped up. Nashville made a major lineup change prior to Game 3. Preds center Mike Ribeiro was a healthy scratch after having only one point and a minus-three in nine playoff games this year. Nashville replaced Ribeiro with rookie Pontus Aberg who made his NHL debut tonight. Aberg recorded 40 points, 25 of them goals, in 73 games with their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.
Nashville applied major pressure early and just 1:11 into the game the pressure resulted in the game’s first penalty. Sharks winger Melker Karlsson took down Preds star Roman Josi with a hook and earned a two-minute trip to the sin bin. This sent the Predators to their awful man advantage. Nashville is a horrendous 2/31 on the PP in the playoffs. The penalty resulted in no big chances as they only managed 2 shots and San Jose killed it off.
The games first goal came with 6:47 remaining in the first period. This goal resulted from pure skill and speed. San Jose vet Patrick Marleau kicked the puck to himself at his own blue line but kicked it so far even I thought the play was going to result in nothing. I and probably every fan in the arena was wrong. Marleau was able to split Predators defender, Shea Weber, and Roman Josi and beat them to the puck in the Preds zone. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne tried to come out and perform a diving poke check but completely missed the puck after Marleau pulled the puck back onto his stick. Marleau then had a wide open net and slammed the puck home to open up the Sharks tab. This goal was the first 1st-period goal of the series between these two teams.
With a little of five minutes left in the first period, Predators D-man Anthony Bitetto crossed check Sharks center Joe Thornton. After the penalty was called, a major scrum ensued which resulted in a roughing minor for Sharks defender Brent Burns and Predators defender Barret Jackman. These two calls canceled each other out and sent San Jose to their first PP of the game from the Bitetto cross-check call. The Preds were able to kill this PP of with poise. Then with 55 seconds left in the first, Preds winger Viktor Arvidsson gets the call for slashing Sharks defenseman Brendan Dillon sending San Jose to their second PP of the game and the first period ended with them on the man advantage.
The second period started with the Sharks on the power play. Nashville was once again up to the task and didn’t allow a shot and killed off the penalty. Then just 2:19 into the second period, San Jose youngster Joonas Donskoi received a four-minute high-sticking call after he caught Preds winger James Neal up high. Nashville went to their second manpower advantage of the game, looking for some major momentum and even a goal to tie the game.
That is exactly what Nashville did thanks to a very good power play. Predators Mattias Ekholm gathered the puck on the left-hand side, skated the puck across the blue line and drove right into the slot. Ekholm spotted Preds winger James Neal low on the right-hand side and fed him a nifty pass. Neal took the pass and HAMMERED a one-timer from almost the goal line and beat San Jose goalie Martin Jones high short side to tie the game up at 1-1 on the power play.
Nashville would then get another glorious chance to take the lead just 3:21 later. Predators defender Roman Josi corralled the puck high in the left-hand slot and ripped a wrister looking to beat Jones high glove side. Martin Jones had other plans and robbed Josi with a stellar glove save to keep the game knotted at 1 goal a piece.
San Jose went back on the penalty kill after Sharks winger Matt Nieto hooked Preds Ryan Johansen. Nashville went back to the power play for the third time looking to take the lead again. Sadly, their power play did not last long because Nashville winger Craig Smith caught Sharks winger Nick Spalling with a stick up high and we then played 4 on 4 hockey.
Just 44 seconds later of four aside hockey, Nashville would take the lead thanks to Shea Weber. Predators Ryan Johansen carried the puck in on the right side and tried dancing around the defenseman. Johansen got the puck poked right off his stick and went right to Shea Weber sitting in the slot. Weber unleashed a HOWITZER of a slap shot that beat Martin Jones high glove side and went bar down to give them a 2-1 lead. This goal was Weber’s 13th career playoff goal, tieing the franchise record for goals in the playoffs with David Legwand (no longer on the team).
San Jose went back on the power play with their fourth chance of the game. This time, Nashville defenseman Barret Jackman got called for hooking Sharks defender Brent Burns. The Sharks look to tie the game up on their power play which is usually very strong. San Jose managed to fire four shots on Pekka Rinne, but Rinne was very effective and shut down every opportunity. The second period would end with Nashville up 2-1, but San Jose still looking to tie the game.
Just like the second period started, the third period started with the Sharks back on the power play for 21 seconds. Nashville killed off that penalty once again, especially thanks to Pekka Rinne and blocked shots. The two teams would then trade a couple of decent scoring chances, but again, the duo of Rinne and Jones would turn them away.
Then with 13:51 left in the third period, Predators youngster Colton Sissons went on a mini breakaway looking to score. Sissons would then get knocked off the puck and taken down. He went flying into the post banging his knee right off the post. Sissons would then need help to get off the ice and went right into the locker room. Hope he can return quickly!
Then just 46 seconds later the Predators would strike again to go up 3-1 with 13 minutes remaining. Nashville winger Colin Wilson grabbed the puck on the goal line and slid a beautiful pass to pinching defender Ryan Ellis. He then threw a snap shot on net that was immediately saved by Jones’ left pad. The puck went off the boards and right to Wilson who was sitting in the same spot. Wilson corralled the loose puck on the goal line and shot it off the right post and in to give the Preds their first two-goal lead of the series. Wilson now has points in four straight games.
San Jose would then start applying some more pressure in the hope of getting back into the game. Although, once again Pekka Rinne was able to stone the Sharks on back to back chances to keep his team’s two-goal lead.
With 8:52 left in the contest we would get more 4 on 4 hockey. Nashville D-man Roman Josi collects a slashing call against Sharks center Joe Thornton and Joe Thornton getting two minutes for slashing Roman Josi right back. San Jose looked to take a page out of Nashville’s book and score a goal while playing 4 on 4 just like the Preds did earlier in the game, but this never happened.
Nashville winger Craig Smith would then be sent on a mini breakaway off a nice pass. San Jose D-man Brenden Dillon would slash Smith on his BA causing his shot to go wide. This sent the Preds to their fifth PP of the game looking to convert for another goal. Just 47 seconds into the power play, Mike Fisher would have another amazing chance to add to the lead. Fisher got the puck in the high slot and fired a laser that was calmly gloved down by Jones to still give his team a glimmer of hope.
Then 1:48 into the Predators fifth power play, Nashville would strike again. Preds winger Filip Forsberg, who was in the right-hand corner, passed the puck up to Preds D-man Roman Josi at the point. Josi passed the puck right back to Forsberg who grabbed the puck, curled back and drove right to the top of the right faceoff circle. Forsberg then rifled a NASTY wrist shot that, once again, beat Martin Jones high glove side and went bar down to increase the lead to 4-1. This would end up being the final score of the game as the Predators would hold on for a huge win.
Nashville’s goalie Pekka Rinne would end the game saving 24 out of 25 shots for a .963 SV%. While San Jose’s tendy Martin Jones would save 21 out of 25 shots for a measly .840 SV%.
Nashville would lead faceoffs (35-26), hits (37-28), and giveaways (6-5). San Jose would lead in shots (27-25) and penalty minutes (14-12). The teams would tie in blocked shots (19-19). The Sharks went a terrible 0/4 on the power play and the Predators went 2/5.
Nashville would earn a huge win and also a huge momentum builder with tonight’s win. Thier win would cut San Jose’s series lead to 2 games to 1. These two teams will meet again on Thursday night at 9 pm back here in Nashville, Tennesee. The game can be seen on CNBC, SN, or TVAS2.