Tag Archives: Matt Nieto

Colorado Avalanche 2018-19 Season Preview

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Colorado Avalanche

43-30-9, 95 points, 4th in the Central Division

2nd Wild Card in the West, lost in First Round to NSH 4-2

Additions: F Cody Bass (signed to a PTO), F Matt Calvert, D Ian Cole, G Philipp Grubauer (acquired from WSH), F Scott Kosmachuk, F Logan O’Connor

Subtractions: G Jonathan Bernier (signed with DET), F Blake Comeau (signed with DAL), F Felix Girard (signed with the Manitoba Moose, AHL), D Jesse Graham (signed with Utica Comets, AHL), F Rocco Grimaldi (signed with NSH), G Andrew Hammond (signed with MIN), D Brooks Orpik (acquired from WSH, bought out, then signed with WSH), F Nail Yakupov (signed, KHL)

Still Unsigned: F Joe Colborne, F Reid Petryk, D Duncan Siemens, F Trent Vogelhuber

Re-signed: G Joe Cannata, D Ryan Graves, D Mason Geertsen, G Spencer Martin, D Patrik Nemeth, D Matt Nieto

Offseason Analysis: Now that Erik Karlsson has been traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic has had one of the best offseasons. Kidding aside, the Senators lottery protected their 2018 1st round pick in the three-team Matt Duchene trade, meaning the Avalanche have Ottawa’s 2019 1st round pick in addition to their own.

The #LoseForHughes watch has begun.

But as for Colorado’s offseason, things have gone swimmingly as Sakic’s roster made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2014. Blake Comeau’s 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games in 2017-18 have departed for Dallas. In his top-nine forward role, Sakic replaced the 32-year-old Comeau with 28-year-old, Matt Calvert.

Calvert had 9-15–24 totals in 69 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season and is looking to turn things around in health and in offensive production as a top-nine forward.

While Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen look to continue leading the team in production, Alexander Kerfoot seeks to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump on the second line.

On defense, Sakic knows time is on his side.

Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Barrie have made an effective pairing with Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson contesting for more ice time. Girard had an impressive rookie debut with three goals and 17 assists (20 points) in 68 games played, while Barrie and Johnson played veteran roles– anchoring the blue line for the Avs.

Patrik Nemeth proved to be a smart pickup off waivers from the Stars last season as a bottom-pair defender, so it was an easy decision to re-sign with the NHL’s hottest up-and-coming team from a 48-point season in 2016-17 to a 95-point effort (and playoff berth) in 2017-18.

To complete his top-six defensemen on the depth chart, Sakic signed 29-year-old durable defender, Ian Cole, to a three-year contract worth a friendly $4.250 million per season.

Cole had 20 points in 67 games with the Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins last season and is looking to prove that he’s more than just a flash in the pan at this point in his career.

A two-time Cup winner with the Penguins, Cole is in the midst of his prime and brings a competitive edge to the Avs in his quiet stability.

In goal, Semyon Varlamov has some competition for the starting job– if he can stay healthy– as Philipp Grubauer was acquired at the draft in June and signed to a three-year extension at a cap friendly $3.333 million per season.

Grubauer, 26, dropped the first two games of the Washington Capitals postseason run in April while Braden Holtby was figuring himself out, but managed a 15-10-3 record in 35 games played in the 2017-18 regular season as Washington’s backup. He also had a 2.35 goals against average and .923 save percentage in his most games played in a season since reaching the NHL during the 2012-13 season.

Varlamov, 30, managed to play in 51 games last season, despite injuries, and amassed a 24-16-6 record to go along with a 2.68 GAA and .916 SV%. Last season was much better than his 6-17-0 record in 24 games played in 2016-17, in which Varlamov had a career-worst 3.38 GAA and .898 SV%.

With one-year remaining on his contract at $5.900 million a season, Varlamov’s reached a make-or-break point in his career, let alone his time in the Mile High City. Grubauer is the way of the foreseeable future and a little healthy competition never hurt anyone for the starting job.

Sure Jonathan Bernier’s moved on to the Detroit Red Wings, but Colorado has one of the most sought after goalies that was on the slim trade market among options in the crease.

Offseason Grade: B-

The Avalanche had some needs and they filled them. In accordance with hockey logic, Colorado shouldn’t be as good as they were last season this season, but for the first time in at least a few years it appears they’ve found a reliable goaltender.

As MacKinnon continues to emerge and the kids grow into their own, Sakic’s roster looks set to make some waves in the coming years– at least as a spoiler (they took Nashville to six games before being eliminated after all), if not something more.

Despite acquiring Brooks Orpik only to buy him out as some sort of larger scheme the Capitals secretly wanted all along to sign him to a one-year, $1.000 million contract, Colorado didn’t make a bad choice this offseason. It’s just the beginning of making themselves an attractive free agent destination once again.

2018 Offseason Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the Colorado Avalanche and their outlook for the summer.

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The 2017-18 Colorado Avalanche came off of the worst season in the salary cap era with a 43-30-9 record and 95-point performance on the year, finishing 4th in the Central Division and clinching the final wild card spot in the 2018 postseason with a win in their final game of the regular season against the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis entered that game in April, in fact, ahead of the Avs in the standings by a point with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators in the First Round.

Not only did Colorado win, but they completed an unthinkable turnaround.

This, after trading the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Matt Duchene, to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three team trade that saw the Avalanche flip Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators, collecting a large package combined that included rookie defender Samuel Girard.

While one trade alone doesn’t put General Manager Joe Sakic in the hunt for the NHL’s GM of the Year award, the incredible turnaround in on-ice performance led by head coach, Jared Bednar, put Bednar in consideration for the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

Sakic currently holds onto the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and two second round picks (Colorado’s own and one from the Predators as part of the Duchene trade).

While the conditional 2018 1st round pick from the Ottawa Senators in the Duchene deal was top-10 protected, the Sens will surrender a 2019 first round pick to the Avalanche instead.

Regardless, Sakic and his scouting crew will have plenty of attractive “best available” talent to choose from in the middle of the first round (namely, Barrett Hayton, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Joseph Veleno, Jack McBain, Jared McIsaac and others).

Pending free agents

Colorado has about $22.900 million to spend this summer with Blake Comeau, Matt Nieto and Nail Yakupov as the only current-NHL roster pending free agent forwards.

Comeau, 32, is a pending-UFA that bounced back from 2016-17’s down year (remember when Carl Soderberg had 14 points that season? Carl. Soderberg.), with an average of 30 points in his three seasons in the Mile High city.

He’s been around the league a bit in his career, but he resurfaced as a durable forward on an otherwise young roster, amassing 13-21–34 totals in 79 games played with the Avalanche this season.

Nieto, 25, is a pending-RFA that was claimed off waivers last season by Colorado and had his best season since 2014-15 with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 15 goals and 11 assists (26 points) in 74 games for the Avs in 2017-18.

The biggest difference maker for the Avalanche this offseason is not messing things up. Keeping Nieto isn’t harmful to the team’s future as their younger players come into their own and a small term deal won’t hurt as the younger players gain experience.

In short, there’s nothing for Sakic to lose in building a roster that makes the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Not many expected them to be at the point of playoff contention this season, so any step forward is better than a step backward as Colorado continues to retool for a Cup run (someday).

If there’s one pending-RFA Sakic should have an easy time letting go of, it’s Nail Yakupov.

The 24-year-old 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Enty Draft signed a one-year deal with Colorado in attempt to resurrect his career. It did not go as planned, despite scoring often and scoring early in the regular season.

Yakupov produced nine goals and seven assists (16 points) in 58 games with the Avalanche in the regular season and was scratched for their entire 2018 postseason run.

That alone is an indication.

While he almost doubled his offensive production this season compared to his final year with the St. Louis Blues (3-6–9 totals in 40 games in 2016-17), it doesn’t appear he can be part of an NHL lineup with enough consistency.

At best, Yakupov is the one you least expect to score, but then surprises everyone with the occasional goal. At worst, he’s just taking up a roster spot you could be giving to someone else.

Sakic already tried the low-risk, high-reward with Yakupov. It’s best to move on.

On defense, Patrik Nemeth, 26, and Duncan Siemens, 24, are both pending-RFAs.

Nemeth was claimed off waivers early last October from the Dallas Stars and scored his first career NHL goal with Colorado (and then two more) this season. He first broke into the league with Dallas in the 2013-14 season and had 3-12–15 totals in 68 games with the Avs in 2017-18.

He’s a low cost top-6 blueliner on a roster with about 10 NHL caliber defensemen. Whether Nemeth returns or not comes down to how Sakic envisions the roster– with Nikita Zadorov entering a contract year and Tyson Barrie potentially hitting the open market in July 2020– and how Bednar thinks he’s going to play everyone.

The 11th overall pick of the Avalanche in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Siemens scored his first NHL goal and recorded his first career assist in 16 games played. That’s the most he’s played in a season after appearing in his first career game in 2014-15.

There’s nothing holding him back from leaving the organization in search of a place that’ll give him more of a chance, but if he’s comfortable enough in Colorado, that’s fine too. Realistically speaking, he won’t be back with an NHL job in Denver, though.

In goal, the Avalanche have on goaltender under contract for 2018-19 and it’s 30-year-old Semyon Varlamov.

With a $5.900 million cap hit, Varlamov isn’t all that bad– as trade bait. But who would buy an oft-injured goaltender plateauing past his prime?

Injuries once again plagued the veteran starter down the stretch, but his numbers technically improved. Again, it’s an almost automatic technicality coming off of 2016-17, but Varlamov did produce a 2.68 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 51 games this season (which was close to his 2.56 GAA and .921 SV% in 57 games in 2014-15 with Colorado).

His next game will be his 400th career NHL game and if Sakic tosses around the idea of retaining some salary, the Avalanche could possibly find a new home for the goaltender, while seeking a legitimate number one.

Spencer Martin, 23, is a pending-RFA that last played at the NHL level in 2016-17. He is 0-2-1 in his short three game NHL career with a 4.35 GAA and an .865 SV% in the worst season for the franchise since moving to Denver.

Backup goalie, Jonathan Bernier, 29, is a pending-UFA that in 37 games with the Avs this season, amassed a 2.85 GAA and .913 SV% with a 19-13-3 record. That’s down from his 2.50 GAA, .915 SV% and 21-7-4 record in 39 games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2016-17– ignoring the experience along the blueline Anaheim’s defense has over Colorado’s.

The problem with Bernier is that while he’s a backup goaltender, he’s been subpar with average teams. In 2015-16 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bernier was once again relegated to being a backup goalie for the first time since his breakout days behind Jonathan Quick with the Los Angeles Kings.

In 20 fewer games than 2014-15 (his last as a starter, in which he had a 2.87 GAA and .912 SV%), Bernier posted a 12-21-3 record with a 2.88 GAA and .908 SV% in 38 games with Toronto. Yikes.

Could the Avalanche take a stab at trying to acquire pending-RFA Philipp Grubauer from the Washington Capitals?

Sure, but let’s remember, they tried getting a Washington goaltender (in Varlamov) before to be their number one, so there’s no guarantees.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Rocco Grimaldi (UFA), Felix Girard (RFA), Jesse Graham (RFA), Joe Cannata (UFA), Mason Geertsen (RFA), Joe Colborne (UFA), Ryan Graves (RFA), Andrew Hammond (UFA), Reid Petryk (RFA), Trent Vogelhuber (UFA)

Nashville routs Colorado, 5-2, in Game One

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While the National Hockey League may, in fact, be getting younger, the Nashville Predators do not care. Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville beat the youngest team in the league in their first-ever postseason matchup, defeating the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 5-2 in Game 1 of their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round best-of-seven game series.

Filip Forsberg’s two-goal third period effort yielded the game winning goal as well as some Predators franchise history as Pekka Rinne recorded 25 saves on 27 shots faced for a .926 save percentage en route to the win. Forsberg’s 17-11—28 career Stanley Cup Playoff totals tied Nashville’s franchise record for most career playoff points with the Preds.

With one more point in this postseason, Forsberg will surpass David Legwand and Shea Weber— who both had 13-15—28 totals in their time with the Predators in the postseason.

Avalanche goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, turned aside 26 shots out of 30 shots against for an .867 SV% in the loss.

Nikita Zadorov (1) kicked off the game’s scoring with his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal at 6:36 of the first period, giving Colorado an early 1-0 lead, surprising everyone but the Predators faithful at Bridgestone Arena, given Nashville’s sheer dominance at home in the regular season as well as their numerous comebacks at home in last year’s edition of the playoffs.

Mikko Rantanen (1) and Nathan MacKinnon (1) were credited with the assists on Zadorov’s goal.

Despite many attempts to put the puck past Bernier, this season’s President’s Trophy winners were held scoreless through 20 minutes of play. If that’s not surprising enough, Nashville’s sloppy start resulted in two minor penalties near the end of the first period, though Colorado was unable to convert on their man advantages.

Early in the second period, however, Nashville came alive.

Austin Watson (1) pocketed his first goal of the postseason 3:16 into second period action. Colton Sissons (1) and Ryan Johansen (1) had the assists on Watson’s goal that tied the game, 1-1.

But not even two minutes later, the Predators found themselves in a hole when a Carl Soderberg shot was redirected by Blake Comeau (1) past Rinne at 4:51. Comeau’s goal put the Avs back in front, 2-1, and was assisted by Soderberg (1) and Matt Nieto (1).

Almost midway through the second period, Hart Trophy candidate, Nathan MacKinnon was called for slashing Preds defenseman, P.K. Subban.

It only took ten seconds for Nashville to convert on the power play.

Craig Smith (1) made it a 2-2 game with a power play goal and threw momentum by the wayside. Johansen (2) notched his second assist of the night as the Predators began to dominate the action.

After 40 minutes of play, with the score tied, 2-2, Nashville was leading in shots on goal 21-17 and was 1/1 on the power play.

Just past six minutes into the third period, Filip Forsberg (1) scored a nifty goal to put the Predators ahead for the first time in the game, 3-2. Preds captain, Roman Josi (1), and forward, Viktor Arvidsson (1) assisted on Forsberg’s first goal of the night.

Mark Barberio was called for a slashing minor against Miikka Salomaki at 7:58 of the third period, but Bernier and the Avalanche were able to hold off on the Nashville onslaught and kill the penalty.

Then Forsberg wowed everyone.

First he put the puck between his own legs and then he went through the legs of Samuel Girard and beat Bernier with a good shot. It’s worth mentioning that Forsberg was moving at full speed, too, making Girard look like molasses. The irony, of course, is that Girard was part of Nashville’s package sent to Colorado in the three-team Matt Duchene trade back in November.

Forsberg notched his 2nd goal of the night on a beautiful individual effort and made it 4-2 Nashville with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation.

Kyle Turris (another product of the aforementioned Duchene trade) was guilty of a slashing penalty (against Girard, no less) 12 seconds after Forsberg’s goal, but at that point everything was coming up Predators.

With time ticking down, Avalanche head coach, Jared Bednar, pulled his goaltender for an extra skater. Sadly it was too little, too late.

Colton Sissons (1) put home the empty net goal at 18:03 of the third period to solidify the victory for Nashville. Watson (1) snagged the only assist on the goal that made it 5-2.

At the final horn Arvidsson played until the end, firing a shot a second too late— or rather, not to Zadorov’s liking, as Zadorov swiftly gave him a cross check and was assessed two penalties at the conclusion of the game, as is an annual tradition (always) somewhere in playoff hockey.

Zadorov’s cross checking minor and misconduct penalties read as being handed out at 20:00 of the third period. Not enough time to see what else Nashville could have done, given there was no time left on the clock.

Nashville finished the game leading in shots on goal (31-27), blocked shots (18-17), hits (36-24) and giveaways (9-7). Colorado led in faceoff win percentage, 53-47%. The Avalanche were unsuccessful on the power play all night (0/3) and Nashville went 1/2 on the man advantage.

The Predators take their 5-2 victory in Game 1 and 1-0 series lead into Game 2 on Saturday afternoon for a 3 p.m. ET puck drop at Bridgestone Arena. Depending on your location, United States national viewers can tune to NBC or CNBC for coverage, meanwhile fans in Canada can flip to SNW, SNP or TVAS.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

Couture’s 3-Point Night Leads Sharks to 2016 Western Conference Final

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownThe San Jose Sharks thumped the Nashville Predators 5-0 in Game 7 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round matchup.

Logan Couture had a three point night and Joe Pavelski scored the game winning goal while Martin Jones made 20 saves on 20 shots faced en route to the shutout victory on Thursday night at SAP Center in San Jose.

Jones became the fourth Sharks goaltender in franchise history to record a playoff shutout and became the first San Jose goalie to do so in a Game 7. Not only that, but it was the first Game 7 of Jones’s career.

Pekka Rinne made 21 saves on 26 shots against for a .808 SV% in the loss and was pulled in the third period after the Sharks scored their fifth goal of the evening. Rinne’s replacement, Carter Hutton, notched one save on one shot on goal in 16:06 TOI.

With the win, San Jose advanced to the Western Conference Final and will face the St. Louis Blues in the next round of the playoffs. It is the Sharks first appearance in the Western Conference Final since 2011 and their fourth overall (2004, 2010, 2011 and 2016).

Entering Thursday night it was the 13th playoff game in 25 days for the Nashville Predators, who were 3-0 when facing elimination this postseason until Thursday’s outcome. It was just the second Game 7 in Predators franchise history, with their first Game 7 having been a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on road ice in Round One of this year’s playoffs.

Sharks forward, Matt Nieto, was out of the lineup for Game 7 due to an undisclosed injury. As a result, Tommy Wingels was inserted into the lineup for the first time in two games after being a healthy scratch. San Jose entered the night 3-0 at home in the series and finished 4-0 at home in the series, while Nashville fell to 0-8 in all-time playoff games at SAP Center. Peter Laviolette’s five straight Game 7 winning streak was snapped and his record as a head coach in Game 7s fell to 5-2 (1-1 with Nashville) with the 5-0 outcome.

Viktor Arvidsson took the game’s first penalty at 8:22 of the first period for sending the puck over the glass. Arvidsson’s delay of game minor gave San Jose their first power play of the night and it didn’t take them long to capitalize on the man advantage. Joe Pavelski wristed one past Rinne for his 9th goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 9:02 of the first period. Patrick Marleau (5) and Joe Thornton (8) picked up the primary and secondary assists on Pavelski’s goal.

The goal was just Pavelski’s 2nd career Game 7 goal and tied a Sharks postseason record for most goals in a playoff year with nine.

It was apparent in the first eight minutes that the Sharks were grabbing momentum of Game 7 when they had already fired numerous shots on goal before Nashville got their first shot on Jones.

In keeping with the home ice, home crowd fueled momentum; Joel Ward received a pass from Melker Karlsson that sent him in on a breakaway towards Rinne. Ward deked and slid the puck underneath Rinne’s five-hole to give San Jose a 2-0 lead at 16:51 of the period. Karlsson (1) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (7) assisted on Ward’s goal— his 3rd in five-career Game 7s.

To finish off the first period, Shea Weber took an interference minor that would extend into the second period for 38 seconds.

UnknownAfter twenty minutes of play the Sharks led 2-0 on the scoreboard and outshot the Predators 17-3. San Jose also lead in faceoff wins (15-7) and takeaways (5-0), while Nashville led in hits (16-14) and giveaways (8-5).

Both teams blocked seven shots in the first period and Nashville has yet to see time on the man advantage, while the Sharks were 1/2 on the power play.

Logan Couture extended his two-game point streak to three games with a quick goal 36 seconds into the second period that put San Jose on top 3-0. Couture capitalized on a Shea Weber mishap (that seemed to be a theme of the night) and put his seventh goal of the playoffs through Rinne’s five-hole. With two assists in the third period, Couture not only extended his point streak, but added to his already five goals and three assists (now make that six goals and five assists) in the series.

His 11 points in the series passed Igor Larionov’s 1994 Sharks franchise record of ten points in a single postseason series.

Fed up with his own play and Nashville’s general lack of effort, Mattias Ekholm went undisciplined at the end of the second period and cross checked Tommy Wingels. Ekholm received a minor penalty that would be served in its entirety to start the third period.

But it didn’t take long for San Jose to capitalize on their third chance on the power play as Joe Thornton sent a backhanded puck in the twine 32 seconds into the third period. Thornton’s 3rd goal of the playoffs was assisted by Couture (9) and made it 4-0 Sharks.

In keeping with the hometown momentum, San Jose pressured the Predators early in the third, resulting in another goal at 3:54 of the period. Joonas Donskoi sent the puck to Couture who then found Patrick Marleau for a snap shot that beat Rinne and made it 5-0 Sharks in the third period. Marleau’s 4th goal of the playoffs was enough to chase Rinne from the net, but not before Rinne swung his stick twice at the net to break it and a third time as he threw it behind him, before skating off the ice to be replaced by Hutton.

Marleau’s goal was assisted by Couture (10) and Donskoi (5).

At 14:34 of the third, Justin Braun took the Sharks first penalty of the night for interfering with Colin Wilson. Nashville was unable to amount anything on their only power play of the night and Jones and the Sharks went on to hold the 5-0 lead through the end of the game.

With the shutout, Wilson’s seven-game point streak had been snapped, along with his 4-5-9 totals in that span and James Neal’s four-game point streak came to an end as well for the Preds.

San Jose finished the night leading in shots on goal (27-20), takeaways (10-4) and blocked shots (22-12). Nashville ended the night leading in hits (46-31), faceoff wins (32-31) and giveaways (21-12). The Sharks went 2/3 on the power play, while the Predators went 0/1.

While Couture had a three-point night and Marleau, Thornton and Vlasic each had two-point nights, top Nashville defensive pair, Weber and Roman Josi finished the night as minus-3’s.

Despite trailing in shots on goal in periods one and two (17-3 and 6-5, respectively), Nashville outshot San Jose 12-4 in the third period.

With the series outcome, the team that scores first in Game 7s improved to 123-42 (.745) all-time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (4-0 this postseason). San Jose improved to 8-0 when Pavelski records at least a point and the home team won all seven games in the series, which was just the fourth such occurrence in the last 20 years (with the other times being the 2013 Conference Semifinals between Los Angeles and San Jose, the 2003 Stanley Cup Final between New Jersey and Anaheim and the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between Toronto and the New York Islanders).

For the seventh straight season, a team from California will be playing in the Western Conference Final. San Jose played in the WCF in 2010 and 2011 against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks, respectively, while Los Angeles took on the then Phoenix Coyotes in 2012 and the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2014. The Anaheim Ducks played the Blackhawks in 2015 and San Jose is once again back in the Western Conference Final in 2016.

Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference Final is scheduled for Sunday night at 8:00 PM EST in St. Louis at Scottrade Center and will be televised on NBCSN in the United States and CBC and TVA Sports in Canada. The St. Louis Blues have home ice advantage and play host to San Jose in Games 1 and 2, as well as 5 and 7 if necessary. The Sharks will host the Blues at SAP Center in Games 3 and 4, and Game 6 if necessary.

Arvidsson and the Predators force Game 7

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownViktor 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.

UnknownJoe 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.

An All Around Team Effort Helps Nashville Earn a Giant Win at Home.

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.

Unknown

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 46Unknown 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.

San JO(E)se duo leads Sharks to 3-2 win over Predators

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownJoe Pavelski put the San Jose Sharks ahead 2-1 before Joe Thornton scored an empty net goal to make it 3-1 (before Nashville scored a goal with 3.6 seconds left to make it 3-2), as the Sharks beat the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Second Round matchup on Sunday night at SAP Center in San Jose, California.

That’s a long winded way of saying that the Sharks have a 2-0 series lead over the Predators after winning 3-2 on Sunday night, but hey, I forced the pun in the title to work, so I forced everything to work in the lede.

Martin Jones made 37 saves on 39 shots faced for a .949 SV% en route to the win, while Pekka Rinne made just 22 saves on 24 shots on goal for a .917 SV% in the loss.

No goals were scored in the first period, but both teams got a chance to test out their power play units as Roman Josi took the game’s first penalty 6:24 into the first period for cross checking San Jose’s, Chris Tierney. Joel Ward later tripped Craig Smith at 13:38 of the first period and gave Nashville their first power play opportunity of the night.

Heading into the first intermission scoreless, the Predators were outshooting the Sharks 10-7, as well as leading in hits (19-7), giveaways (9-5) and blocked shots (10-5). San Jose led in faceoff wins (11-8) and takeaways (4-1) after twenty minutes of play.

To his credit, Rinne made a series of spectacular saves early in the second period, including one where we brushed the puck aside with nearly the blade of his skate.

The Sharks were caught with too many men on the ice at 15:16 of the 2nd period and Joonas Donskoi served the bench minor as San Jose successfully made the kill. A few minutes later, the Predators were guilty of having too many men on the ice and sent Victor Arvidsson to the box to serve the bench minor.

Thirty-three seconds into the ensuing power play, Logan Couture found the back of the net for his 4th goal of the postseason and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead on a power play goal. Couture’s slap shot beat Rinne and was assisted by Brent Burns (9) and Joe Thornton (3) at 18:36 of the 2nd period and was enough to give San Jose a lead heading into the second intermission.

Brenden Dillon was sent to the box a little over six-and-a-half minutes into the third period for roughing and gave Nashville a chance on the extra man advantage. A Shea Weber rocket on the ensuing power play caught Sharks defenseman, Marc-Eouard Vlasic right in the visor between the eyes and stopped play for a minute or two as Vlasic gathered himself, stood up and skated off on his own power, in what was clearly another example of why helmets and visors are important in hockey at the NHL level.

The Predators were unable to convert on their final power play of the night and the Sharks continued to lead 1-0 as the third period marched on.

UnknownMattias Ekholm tied the game, 1-1, on a snap shot that beat San Jose goaltender, Martin Jones, at 12:56 of the 3rd.

Ekholm’s 3rd goal of the playoffs was assisted by Colin Wilson (5) and Roman Josi (5).

But it didn’t take long before Joe Pavelski found a way to beat Rinne for his 6th goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to put the Sharks back into the lead, 2-1. Pavelski received a pass from Matt Nieto and slapped the puck past Rinne at 17:20 of the 3rd period, sending the fans at SAP Center into a frenzy as their captain came in clutch once again. Nieto (1) and Thornton (3) assisted on the goal.

The Predators promptly pulled their goalie for an extra skater with around two minutes remaining in the game.

Thornton received a pass from Couture and fired a wrist shot into the empty net to put the Sharks ahead by two and give San Jose a 3-1 lead with under a minute remaining in regulation. Thornton’s 2nd goal of the postseason was assisted by Couture (6) and Pavelski (4) at 19:04 of the 3rd period. Pavelski earned his third point of the night and thus had his 6th career three-point game in the postseason— the most in San Jose Sharks playoff history, per Elias Sports.

With the clock winding down and a mad battle for the puck in front of Jones, Ryan Johansen found a gap and pushed the puck to the twine with a slap shot for his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 19:56 of the 3rd period. Johansen’s goal pulled the Predators to within a goal as the Sharks lead was cut to 3-2. Josi (6) and Mike Fisher (1) assisted on the goal.

At the final horn the Sharks had won Game 2 by a score of 3-2 and finished the night leading in faceoff wins (32-30), takeaways (9-5) and blocked shots (25-24). Nashville ended the night leading in shots on goal (39-25), hits (46-26) and giveaways (20-13). The Preds finished the night 0/3 on the power play, while the Sharks ended the night 1/2 on the man advantage.

San Jose now has a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The game will be on USA Network in the United States at 9:00 PM EST and on SN360 and TVA Sports in Canada.

Sharks Score 5 in the 3rd for 5-2 Win in Game 1

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownThe San Jose Sharks rallied in the third period on Friday night to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on home ice in Game 1 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. Martin Jones made 29 saves on 31 shots against for a .935 SV% en route to the win, while Pekka Rinne made 33 saves on 36 shots against for a .917 SV% in the loss.

Friday night began just the third postseason meeting between the Sharks and the Predators in Stanley Cup Playoff history. San Jose defeated Nashville in five games in the first round in both the 2006 and 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Heading into Game 1, Nashville defeated San Jose two out of the three times they played one another during the regular season.

Craig Smith was out of the lineup for Nashville and Eric Nystrom was in his place instead.

Almost five minutes into the first period, Melker Karlsson shot the puck wide of the goal that had just been dismounted by a crashing Predators defenseman. The play was reviewed to determine if the puck would have gone in the net, had it not been knocked off of its moorings. After some deliberation, the refs determined there was no conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the ice, which was no goal, and thus the game remained scoreless.

Karlsson would be involved yet another situation with a ref when he was called for tripping Nashville’s Filip Forsberg at 10:52 of the first period. The Preds were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

After twenty minutes of play, the Predators were leading in shots on goal (12-11) and giveaways (5-4), while the Sharks led in hits (18-14), takeaways (7-4) and blocked shots (7-3). Both teams won nine faceoffs in the first period.

Matt Nieto put Nashville on the power play early in the second period when he was given a minor penalty for tripping Colin Wilson 2:45 into the 2nd.

Just as the power play was about to expire, Mike Fisher capitalized on the man advantage with his 2nd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fisher’s goal was assisted by Ryan Johansen (3) and Mattias Ekholm (1) at 4:33 of the 2nd period and gave the Predators a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.

Almost a minute later, Eric Nystrom provided San Jose with their first power play of the night when he was sent to the penalty box for interfering with Brenden Dillon. The Sharks first attempt on the power play was unsuccessful and yielded no results.

With 40 minutes in the books, Nashville led 1-0 and led in blocked shots 15-11. But for not having played since April 22nd in Game 5 against Los Angeles, the Sharks were beginning to find their legs and led in shots on goal (25-22), hits (36-20), faceoff wins (23-19), giveaways (14-8) and takeaways (11-4) after two periods. Nashville had last played in Game 7 against Anaheim on Wednesday night and began to show signs of fatigue compared to the well-rested Sharks by the end of two.

UnknownJust 50 seconds into the 3rd period Ryan Johansen took a holding penalty for tying up Sharks captain, Joe Pavelski, sending San Jose on their second power play of the game.

Tomas Hertl beat Rinne with a wrist shot at 2:37 of the third period on the power play for his 2nd goal of the playoffs and tied the game at 1. Joel Ward (5) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2) picked up the primary and secondary assists on Hertl’s PPG.

With a clear swing in momentum, Ward led a breakout a little past halfway in the third period that resulted in a breakaway and a dangle that led to a backhand goal past Rinne and 2-1 lead for San Jose. Ward’s first goal of the postseason was assisted by Joonas Donskoi (2) and Norris Trophy finalist, Brent Burns (7), at 11:49 of the 3rd.

Calle Jarnkrok was sent to the sin bin for catching Donskoi with a high stick at 15:20 of the third period and the Sharks went to work once again on the ensuing power play. Twenty seconds on the man advantage was all it took for Logan Couture to receive a pass from Pavelski and fire a backhand behind Pekka Rinne. Couture’s 2nd goal of the playoffs gave San Jose a 3-1 lead with under five minutes remaining in regulation. Pavelski (2) and Burns (8) picked up the assists.

When there was less than three minutes remaining in the game, Nashville head coach, Peter Laviolette motioned for Rinne to abandon his net in exchange for an extra attacker. It almost worked in the short run, as Johansen took a puck off his face that deflected past Martin Jones and pulled the Preds to within one at 18:11 of the third period.

The Predators trailed 3-2 with Johansen’s 2nd goal of the 2016 postseason, assisted by Roman Josi (4) and Colin Wilson (4), however they could not keep the Sharks away from pressing in the closing minutes.

Logan Couture found the back of the empty twine just 20 seconds after Johansen scored to put the Sharks back up by two goals. Couture’s 2nd goal of the night and 3rd of the playoffs was unassisted at 18:31 of the period. Tommy Wingels added another empty net goal at 19:10 of the third period to cement the 5-2 victory for San Jose in Game 1. The goal was unassisted and was Wingels first goal of the playoffs.

For the last 50 seconds of the game, Carter Hutton replaced Rinne in net for Nashville in a message that Laviolette was clearly trying to send to his team that they can’t allow five goals in the third period and expect to win (or over rely on their netminder, for that matter).

San Jose tied a franchise playoff record for most goals in a period with their five goal outburst in the third on Friday night. They had also scored five goals in the 2nd period of a 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal game at Los Angeles.

After the final horn, nearly every skater on the ice participated in some face washing, resulting in numerous penalties to be handed out, officially at 20 minutes of the third period. Roman Polak picked up two roughing minors, while Barret Jackman notched a 10 minute misconduct and two roughing minors himself. As well, Colton Sissons was handed two roughing minor penalties of his own at the conclusion of the game.

With their pleasantries exchanged, the Sharks went on to celebrate their win in Game 1, while the Predators sulked off the ice, soundly beaten.

San Jose finished the night leading in shots on goal (38-31), hits (42-32), faceoff wins (34-29), giveaways (18-13) and takeaways (15-6), while Nashville ended the night leading in blocked shots (25-15). The Predators were 1/2 on the power play in Game 1 and the Sharks finished 2/3 on the man advantage.

Game 2 is on Sunday night at 8 PM EST at the SAP Center in San Jose, California and can be seen on NBCSN in the United States and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.

Sharks Win 6-3, Eliminate Kings in 5 Games

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownThe San Jose Sharks remained perfect against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center this year, including both the regular season and the postseason, defeating the Kings 6-3 in Game 5 and winning the best-of-7-game series 4-1.

Martin Jones made 19 saves on 22 shots faced for an .864 SV% en route to the victory, while LA’s Jonathan Quick saved just 22 shots of the 27 he faced for an .815 SV% in the loss. Entering Friday night, Los Angeles was trailing 3-1 in a series for the 14th time in franchise history. Of the 13 prior occurrences, the Kings were only able to come back and win the series twice, once in 2014 vs. San Jose and the other time versus the Edmonton Oilers in 1989.

Joonas Donskoi kicked off the goal scoring frenzy at 1:08 of the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Logan Couture picked up his first of three assists on the night on Donskoi’s first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At 2:45 of the period, Luke Schenn interfered with Tomas Hertl and was sent to the penalty box, giving San Jose their first power play of the night, which quickly turned into a 5-on-3 advantage 16 seconds after Schenn’s penalty, due to Dustin Brown having tripped Shark’s goaltender, Martin Jones. Despite the two-man advantage, the Sharks were unable to score on the power play.

Chris Tierney picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal at 11:21 of the first period with some help from Brent Burns, who like Couture, also went on to have a three-assist night. Tierney’s goal made it 2-0 San Jose with lots of time left in both the first period and in the game.

Sharks forward, Joel Ward was penalized for tripping Trevor Lewis at 16:27 of the opening frame, but San Jose’s penalty kill was able to avert a power play goal from the Kings.

After one, it was 2-0 San Jose. The Sharks were leading in shots on goal (13-4), hits (12-10), takeaways (1-0) and blocked shots (9-3), while Los Angeles was controlling the faceoff dot (14-12). Both teams had committed four giveaways each after twenty minutes of play.

The second period opened up to Matt Nieto making it 3-0 Sharks a little after four minutes into the period. Nieto’s first goal of the playoffs was assisted by Ward and Couture at 4:05 of the period. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Marleau was granted a penalty shot for being denied a scoring opportunity with 14:29 to go in the 2nd. Despite his moves, Jonathan Quick stood tall and denied Marleau of a penalty shot goal that would’ve given the Sharks a four-goal lead.

Unknown-3Just as it was looking like the Sharks might finally exercise some demons from the past, Anze Kopitar tipped one by Jones at 7:44 of the 2nd for his 2nd of the series, assisted by Dwight King (1) and Drew Doughty (1) to make the Kings trail by two.

Jeff Carter quickly followed up at 11:26 of the 2nd period with his 2nd of the postseason to cut San Jose’s lead to one. Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli picked up the helpers on Carter’s goal.

Carter’s goal meant that Los Angeles was trailing 3-2 with plenty of time left to be a threat.

Nearly five minutes later, Kris Versteeg tied the game, 3-3, with his first goal of the playoffs, assisted by Kyle Clifford and Muzzin. The celebration was short lived, rather, nearly ruined when Trevor Lewis put San Jose on the power play at 17:26 of the second period after slashing Hertl. The Sharks did not score on the man advantage and the game went into the second intermission tied at 3.

San Jose held a slim lead in shots on goal (23-18) and dominated blocked shots (20-8), while Los Angeles had taken control of hits (27-24), faceoff wins (29-23) and giveaways (12-10). Both teams had one takeaway after forty minutes of play and the Sharks were 0/3 on the power play, while Los Angeles was 0/1.

There were no penalties in the third period, however there were still lots of goals.

Donskoi continued to set the heroic tone for San Jose almost four minutes into the third period with what would be the game-winning goal. Burns and Couture picked up the assists.

It wasn’t until 12:24 of the 3rd that the Sharks would score again when San Jose captain, Joe Pavelski beat Quick on a shot to the back of the twine. Burns and Paul Martin got the assists on Pavelski’s 5th goal of the postseason and the Sharks were now in command of the game with a two-goal lead.

With about four minutes left in the game, Darryl Sutter signaled for Quick to vacate the Kings’ net and utilize an extra attacker, but it was ultimately to no avail. Shortly after Joe Thornton iced the puck aiming for LA’s empty net, Melker Karlsson received a pass from Marleau and put the puck at the back of the net for his the empty net goal that sealed the deal on the series. Karlsson’s first of the series gave San Jose a 6-3 lead at 19:38 of the third period.

The Sharks defended the Kings last ditch efforts on their season and emerged victorious once again on road ice at Staples Center this (post)season.

San Jose finished with six goals on the scored board in what was the highest scoring game of the series and recorded 28 shots on goal compared to Los Angeles’s three goals on 22 shots on goal. The Kings finished the night leading in hits (39-30), faceoff wins (41-29) and giveaways (16-11), while the Sharks led in blocked shots (29-11). Both teams finished the night unsuccessful on the power play and with one takeaway each.

San Jose will now wait for the winner of the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators series to end and then face its winner in the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Los Angeles will face many tough questions this offseason after a disappointing Game 5 loss and overall disappointing postseason performance based on how they got into the playoffs in the first place. They’ll also face the decision of whether or not to resign pending unrestricted free agent, Milan Lucic, who is sure to attract some attention from several teams around the league.

In any case, the fourth installment of San Jose vs. Los Angeles was yet another epic in the storied history of California hockey.