By: Nick Lanciani
Viktor Arvidsson scored the game-winning goal a little over two minutes into overtime on Monday night to give the Nashville Predators the 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena.
Arvidsson’s goal was his first career NHL Stanley Cup Playoff goal and tied the series at 3-3, forcing a Game 7 to be played on Thursday night at SAP Center in San Jose, California.
Pekka Rinne turned aside 15 of the 18 shots he faced for a .833 SV% en route to the victory while Martin Jones made 28 saves on 32 shots against for a .875 SV% in the loss.
Entering Monday night Nashville had not lost a game in regulation at Bridgestone Arena versus San Jose since February 25, 2012— having gone 8-0-1 in regular season and postseason games since then. Predators head coach, Peter Laviolette, improved to 13-6 when facing elimination (3-0 this postseason), while Sharks head coach, Peter DeBoer fell to 4-1 when San Jose had a chance to clinch and move on to the next round this postseason.
Chris Tierney kicked off the game’s goal scoring almost ten minutes into the first period with his 2nd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs that he tipped past Rinne on a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Tierney’s goal made it 1-0 Sharks and was assisted by Vlasic (6) and Tomas Hertl (3) after a brief review to determine if Tierney deflected the puck with a high stick.
Despite ultimately outshooting San Jose by the end of the night, Nashville recorded their first shot on goal of the game at 10:02 of the 1st period in between Tierney’s first goal (at 9:55 of the 1st) and his second goal (at 11:51 of the period).
Tierney made it 2-0 San Jose with a backhand that beat a flailing Rinne. The goal was Tierney’s second goal of the game (3rd of the postseason) and gave him his first career NHL multi-goal game. Matt Nieto (2) and Brent Burns (10) picked up the helpers.
But it was Roman Josi who kicked things off for the Predators, having scored on a backhand that beat Jones in an odd pinball-fashion and cut the Sharks lead in half at 15:27 of the first period. The goal was Josi’s first of the playoffs and his first goal since the regular season— back on April 7th– ending a 12 game goalless drought.
With the score at 2-1 and the intensity picking up, Nashville was in clear control of momentum and peppered Jones with shots on goal by the end of the period. Craig Smith and Vlasic picked up matching roughing minors at 19:48 of the first period. As a result, 4-on-4 hockey ensued and carried over to the 2nd period.
After twenty minutes of play the San Jose Sharks led on the scoreboard 2-1 and in shots on goal (8-5), but the Nashville Predators led in everything else— hits (12-9), faceoff wins (14-3), giveaways (3-1), takeaways (2-1) and blocked shots (8-5).
Ryan Johansen scored at 1:25 of the second period to tie the game, 2-2. Johansen’s goal was his 4th of the postseason and was assisted by Ryan Ellis (6). In keeping with a theme for the night, his goal came on a backhanded shot.
Both teams settled into a rhythm of defense and shot blocking as they continued through the second period and entered the second intermission with a 2-2 hockey game.
Joe Pavelski hooked Craig Smith just over two minutes into the third period and gave Nashville the first power play of the night.
The Predators were unable to convert on the man advantage and took a penalty of their own when Miikka Salomaki caught Martin Jones with a high stick in the crease at 8:59 of the 3rd.
With time winding down on their power play, Logan Couture sent a wrist shot past Pekka Rinne to put the Sharks ahead 3-2 with 9:56 left to play in the third period. The goal was Couture’s 6th of the playoffs and was assisted by Burns (11) and Joe Thornton (7).
Yet the Predators just wouldn’t go away as the third period went on.
Colin Wilson continued his six-game point streak— the longest in postseason franchise history for Nashville— with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 12:44 of the third. James Neal (4) and Mike Ribeiro (2) were credited with the primary and secondary assists on the goal that tied the game, 3-3.
At the end of regulation the score was tied 3-3 and the Predators were leading in nearly every category imaginable, including shots on goal (30-17), hits (38-22), faceoff wins (28-20), giveaways (11-10) and takeaways (4-2). The Sharks led in blocked shots (23-13) after sixty minutes of play. San Jose went 1/1 on the power play while Nashville went 0/1 on the man advantage.
A little after two minutes into overtime (2:03 to be exact) Arvidsson found the back of the net with precision on a backhand that floated top-shelf past Jones for the game winner. Miikka Salomaki (1) and Pekka Rinne (1) were credited with the assists and Predators fans in attendance went home happy. Nashville had won Game 6 on home ice by a score of 4-3 and set a new franchise record for playoff victories with seven of them so far in this year’s playoffs.
Monday night was the 8th overtime game of the 2016 Second Round (through 22 games played), which is the most in the second round since 2001 (when 8 of the 25 games played reached overtime in round two).
The Sharks fell to 3-8 all-time and 3-6 on the road in Game 6s when leading the series 3-2 and San Jose fell to 20-20 in all-time Stanley Cup Playoff overtime appearances (11-11 on the road). Nashville, meanwhile, improved to 4-7 (2-3 at home) in all-time postseason overtime games.
Game 7 is scheduled for Thursday night at SAP Center in San Jose and the time of puck drop and broadcast information is yet to be announced by the NHL.