By: Nick Lanciani
Joe Pavelski picked up the game-winning goal on a two-goal night in the San Jose Sharks 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at SAP Center in Game 5 on Saturday night.
Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson had the other goals for the Sharks and Mike Fisher had the lone goal for Nashville.
Martin Jones made 24 saves on 25 shots against for a .960 SV% en route to the win, while Pekka Rinne made 23 saves on 27 shots faced for a .852 SV% before being replaced by Carter Hutton for the final three minutes of the game. Hutton allowed one goal on two shots on net in his 3:01 of ice time.
With the win, San Jose now has a 3-2 series lead over Nashville heading into Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Sharks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2011. Meanwhile, the Predators fell to 0-7 at SAP Center in their all-time Stanley Cup Playoff matchups with San Jose.
Marleau kicked off the scoring at 10:47 of the first period with his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Joonas Donskoi picked up his first of two assists on the night. Marleau’s goal gave San Jose a 1-0 lead, but Mike Fisher soon answered with a game tying goal of his own less than five minutes later. Fisher found the back of the net on a backhand shot that beat Jones for his 5th goal of the postseason, assisted by James Neal (3) and Colin Wilson (8) at 15:40 of the first period.
But the game wouldn’t stay tied at 1 for long.
Joe Pavelski received a pass from Joe Thornton and fired home a slap shot behind Rinne for what would be the eventual game winning goal. Pavelski’s 7th goal of the playoffs was assisted by Thornton (5) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (5) at 17:21 of the opening frame and gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
After twenty minutes of play San Jose was leading in shots on goal (13-11), giveaways (8-6) and takeaways (5-1). Nashville led in hits (15-11) and blocked shots (12-5), while both teams split faceoff wins 11-11 and had yet to see special teams opportunities.
Just thirty-five seconds into the second period, Logan Couture found himself on a breakaway and sent one past Rinne on the backhand to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Couture’s 5th goal of the playoffs was his 7th point of the series and put him one point shy of leading in postseason scoring across the NHL with 5-8-13 totals thus far in two rounds. Donskoi picked up the assist (his fourth of the playoffs) on the goal.
Marleau, Pavelski and Couture rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, in Sharks all-time playoff goal scoring and each forward had at least one goal on Saturday night.
Brenden Dillon was charged with the game’s first penalty as he was sent to the box for interference 10:31 into the 2nd period. The Predators were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night and the Sharks were therefore successful on their first penalty kill of the game.
Roman Josi had the most time on ice of any player in Game 4 (49:42 TOI) and was called for a tripping minor at 19:13 of the second period after he tripped up Couture.
Nine seconds on the power play was all it took for Pavelski to find the twine for the second time of the night and his 8th goal of the postseason. Pavelski’s power play goal gave San Jose a 4-1 lead and was assisted by Marleau (4) and Thornton (6).
Ryan Johansen received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than 15 seconds remaining in the second period and gave the Sharks a short power play before Joel Ward caught Paul Gaustad with a high stick and drew some blood. Ward was sent to the box with a double minor for high sticking and the Sharks and Predators would see some 4-on-4 action to end the 2nd period and begin the 3rd period.
Not much happened in the third period until Johansen tried to mix things up with Pavelski and Thornton roughed up Barret Jackman. Johansen was given a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct, while Thornton received two minutes for slashing Jackman and Mike Ribeiro ascertained a 10-minute misconduct himself at 16:01 of the third period.
Almost a minute later, Anthony Bitetto put the Sharks on a 4-on-3 power play after Bitetto tripped Nick Spaling. By then the Predators had tried just about anything and soon replaced Rinne in goal with Hutton for the last three minutes or so.
None sooner had the Predators swapped goalies than San Jose capitalized on the goalie change and Melker Karlsson squeaked one past Hutton to make it 5-1 with about 50 seconds left in the game. Chris Tierney (1) and Justin Braun (3) picked up the assists on Karlsson’s 2nd of the postseason.
The Sharks finished the night leading in shots on goal (29-25), hits (40-37), giveaways (22-17), takeaways (13-2) and blocked shots (18-16) while the Predators ended the night leading in faceoff wins (32-27). Nashville went 0/3 on the power play and San Jose went 1/3 on the man advantage after sixty minutes of play.
With the 5-1 victory on home ice in Game 5, San Jose now holds a 3-2 series lead— with a chance to eliminate Nashville from the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs— heading to enemy territory for Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 PM EST and the game will be televised on CNBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.