By Colby Kephart
The Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks by the score of 4-3 in triple overtime at Bridgestone Arena in Game 4 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Second Round matchup. The goalies were a huge story of the game as Pekka Rinne stopped 44 out of 47 shots for a .936 save percentage.
Martin Jones stopped 41-45 shots, 18 of those came in the overtime periods. Mike Fisher had a two goal night for the Predators and Brent Burns also had a two goal night in a losing effort for the Sharks.
Heading into Game 4, Colin Wilson was on a 4 game point streak and it only took 41 seconds for the streak to continue. A Mattias Ekholm shot from the front squeaked past Martin Jones and Wilson was there to push it into the empty net. It was Wilson’s 4th goal of playoffs and gave his team a 1-0 lead. It was also Nashville’s first shot of the game and it raised a few questions for San Jose.
The Sharks answered those questions as Logan Couture found Brent Burns busting into the zone along the boards. Burns fired a shot that caught Pekka Rinne by surprised and beat him high glove side. This was Burns 3rd goal of the playoffs and 12th point. Just like Nashville it was also San Jose’s first shot of the game. I was picturing a high scoring game after this but the play began to slow down.
The game was tied until halfway through the period when Roman Josi made a pass to James Neal who ripped a shot at Jones. It bounced off his pads to Mike Fisher who made no mistake to hit the back of the net. It was Fisher’s 3rd goal of the playoffs and gave his team a 2-1 lead. Nashville was able to keep the lead heading into the break.
The 2nd period started with Nashville skating well and creating chances. James Neal had a great one early in the period as he tried to step around Rinne and his shot deflected away. 12:09 into the period Roman Josi took a bad interference call that gave San Jose a chance on the powerplay.
Just as the powerplay expired, Joonas Donskoi took a slap shot from the top of the circle. It bounced off Ryan Ellis’s skate and squeaked past Rinne into the net. Nashville challenged the goal, claiming the play was offside on its entry. It looked like the goal would be disallowed, but the ref’s saw otherwise and called it a good goal. I am not sure if it was the fact they are looking at a small tablet or they saw something I didn’t see, but either way good goal.
With the goal, momentum began to switch as San Jose started creating more chances. Logan Couture had a great look in front of the net but Rinne was able to stand tall and make the save. The game was tied at 2 going into the intermission.
The 3rd period started with a power play that carried over from the 2nd for Nashville. Things got better for Nashville as Brent Burns took a delay of game penalty, giving them a 5 on 3 powerplay for a few seconds but they weren’t able to do anything with it.
This seemed to spark San Jose as they began to have more of the puck. The Predators became undisciplined as they took 2 penalties only 3 minutes apart. On the Sharks second power play of the period they finally broke the deadlock. Joe Thornton won a faceoff back to Couture, who slid the puck to Burns, who then hammered it from the point past Rinne for his second goal of the game.
Nashville realized a 3-1 hole in the series would be dangerous and started to fight back. A shot from the point rang the post, much to Jones’s relief. The fans tried to get their team going making a lot of noise and it worked with just under 5 minutes left in the game. A shot by Ryan Ellis rebounded off of Jones to the stick of Neal who leveled the game at 3. It was Neal’s 4th goal of the playoffs and his second point of the game. The place erupted as overtime was needed to settle Game 4.
Overtime started with the Predators pushing early as they jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in shots. Jones was not to beaten however as he stood tall. The Sharks had a great chance as Joel Ward tried a wraparound to beat Rinne, but Rinne and Ellis robbed Ward and Donskoi on a second chance opportunity. Nashville answered with a chance of their own as Ryan Johansen got the puck in the slot and hit the post about 5 minutes into overtime. Joe Pavelski thought he had the winner as he scored a goal after running into Rinne. The ref’s ruled the goal illegal, however, as it was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
Nine minutes into the overtime, Nashville was given a great chance as Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a penalty for delay of game. The Predators threw everything at net on the power play as Josi, Neal and Craig Smith had great looks but Jones was able to turn them aside and kill off the penalty. Neither team could find a break in the first overtime, so a second overtime was needed.
The second overtime was all San Jose and Rinne. San Jose had a lot of great chances from Tomas Hertl to Joe Pavelski, Rinne was there to keep Nashville in the game. Nashville was outshot 9-3 in the period. One shot attempt that wasn’t part of that shots on goal total was a Paul Martin slap shot that hit the crossbar. Shea Weber took a penalty with 2 minutes left in the period and the Predators penalty kill unit stepped up and bailed out Rinne by clearing the puck out of the zone a few times. The Preds survived the PK and forced a third overtime.
The 3rd overtime was similar to the 2nd as goalies were the story of the period. Patrick Marleau had a great chance early with a wraparound, but Roman Josi got his stick in the way to block it. A minute into the third overtime period, it became Nashville’s longest game in franchise history. Rinne needed to be huge again as his captain, Shea Weber, took another bad penalty. He was able to stay tall and 11 minutes into the period Nashville got the break they wanted. Ekholm’s shot from the point was stopped by Jones and rebounded to Mike Fisher, who scored a goal that was as beautiful as his wife. It was his second goal of the game and evened the series at 2-2.
The next game will be Saturday May 7th at the Shark Tank in San Jose at 10 pm.