Tag Archives: NHL

2016 Mock Draft: Picks 1-14

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1.jpeg

In the (dis)interest of the offseason for some teams and fans, I’ve completed my mock draft for the first fourteen picks of the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft that will be held in Buffalo, New York on June 24th. Rounds 2-7 will be held on June 25th. As we near the end of the Stanley Cup Final, I’ll be adding picks 15-30 and adjusting the rest of my mock draft accordingly. So take a look, tell me I’m on the right track or that I’m an idiot for thinking that [SOME TEAM] is going to pick [SOME PLAYER] over [SOME DIFFERENT PLAYER]. Let us know your thoughts–> tweet to @DTFrozenRiver or drop us a line on our Facebook page.

Unknown.png

1) Toronto Maple Leafs–> C Auston Matthews, Zurich (SUI)

Aside from the Raptors— finally! There’s hope in Toronto and its name is Auston Matthews. The 6’1”, 210-pound center is a two-way player reminiscent of the likes of Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles or Patrice Bergeron in Boston. His 24-22-46 totals in 36 games with Zurich this season earned him the Rising Star Award and 2nd in voting for the MVP of the National League A in Switzerland. Matthews is the franchise center that the Maple Leafs have been waiting for since the days of Mats Sundin. He led the United States to the bronze with 7-4-11 totals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Unknown-4.png

2) Winnipeg Jets–> RW Patrik Laine, Tappara (FIN)

Everyone keeps saying that Patrik Laine is one of the next best things and they might be right. The 6’4”, 206-pound right-winger, could easily fill the hole left behind by Andrew Ladd’s departure around the trade deadline. His size and skill combined with his maturity provide much strength for the increasingly young and talented Jets lineup. Laine had 10 goals in 18 playoff games with Tappara en route to being named postseason MVP and winning the championship in Liiga (Finland’s top professional league).

He had 17-16-33 totals in 46 games during the regular season and led all Liiga rookies in scoring. As well, Laine tied Auston Matthews in goals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship while helping Finland win gold.

Columbus Blue Jackets Logo

3) Columbus Blue Jackets–> RW Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (FIN)

With the 3rd overall pick the Columbus Blue Jackets select the next best overall skater at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft behind Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Puljujarvi is talented and has enough hockey sense to drive an offense. He’s best on the wing and would help continue the youth movement in Columbus as the Blue Jackets look to get back into competitive form and out of the basement of the NHL.

The 6’3”, 203-pound forward had 13-15-28 totals in 50 games played for Karpat in Liiga as a 17-year-old. In addition, Puljujarvi was one point shy of Jaromir Jagr’s record for U-18 players at the World Junior Championship level, having scored 17 points in seven games en route to winning gold with Finland this year at the 2016 IIHF World Juniors.

Unknown-5.png

4) Edmonton Oilers–> D Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia (OHL)

If the Edmonton Oilers keep the 4th overall pick, Chychrun is a no brainer. If Edmonton trades the 4th overall pick, Chychrun is a no brainer. Any questions? Good. The 6’2”, 214-pound, Boca Raton, Florida native is a two-way NHL ready defenseman and a surefire top-5 draft pick. While some may argue there is no clear cut number one defenseman in the draft (there’s three or four top defensemen), Chychrun is a cut above the rest based on his size and familiarity with the North American style of the game.

His physicality and awareness combined with his skating, should help any team strengthen their blue line. He had 11 goals and 49 points in 62 games, while amassing a plus-23 plus/minus, this season with the Sarnia Sting.

Unknown.jpeg

5) Vancouver Canucks–> LW Matthew Tkachuk, London (OHL)

Tkachuk is a skillful forward with grit at 6’1”, 195-pounds. He tied Auston Matthews in scoring for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship with 11 points and had 30-77-107 totals in 57 games with the London Knights this season. Of note, 42 of those points came on the power play.

The way the Canucks have been heading in the last few seasons, finding someone who can play alongside Bo Horvat or Jared McCann is a priority. Offense can be groomed and defense can be brought in through trades and free agency. GM Jim Benning should keep that in mind as Vancouver heads into the offseason.

Unknown-4

6) Calgary Flames–> LW Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

The Flames have done a solid job with building youth from the ground up in recent years, despite making draft selections that have surprised just about every analyst. While Calgary is yet another team that needs to replace some parts on the blue line, taking a defenseman at the Draft is not an option for them this year. Instead, Pierre-Luc Dubois is a smart and versatile forward that can add some flexibility to their lineup.

At 6’2”, 201-pounds, Dubois packs a punch with a playing style that’s on edge and includes great hands. He led the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with 57 assists and 99 points in 62 games this season and was a plus-40 rating. Dubois also finished the season in the top-six in the QMJHL in goals and points.

Unknown-3.png

7) Arizona Coyotes–> D Olli Juolevi, London (OHL)  

It’s always hard to predict where a defenseman will go in the Draft, let alone where anyone will go after about the first five picks usually. Juolevi is arguably as good as, if not better than, Chychrun depending on who you ask. Given how some teams are leary on taking a blue liner so high up, Juolevi slides to the seventh spot where the Arizona Coyotes see no problem in calling him one of their own.

While the Keith Yandle deal from the spring of 2015 paid in dividends for the Coyotes with the addition of Anthony Duclair, they still lost a defenseman that they put a lot of time and effort into forging. Juolevi comes ready made at 6’2”, 182-pounds and provides some solidarity should the Coyotes part with Oliver Ekman-Larsson in any fashion in the coming years. Juolevi had nine goals and 42 points for the London Knights this season with a plus-38 rating. He also won gold with Finland at the 2016 World Juniors and transitioned from Finland to the OHL with ease.

Unknown-2.png

8) Buffalo Sabres–> D Charles McAvoy, Boston University (Hockey East)

This one might be a stretch, but then again, maybe I’ll be right and prove anyone that’s doubting me wrong. The logic of the Sabres’ 8th overall selection is that they’re quite familiar with Boston University over the last couple of seasons, having taken Jack Eichel 2nd overall last year and signed Eichel’s BU linemate, Evan Rodrigues, in free agency. While Buffalo is set on offense, GM Tim Murray needs to set his sights on patching up their defense in the next couple of seasons.

McAvoy might not be NHL ready immediately, but he is an excellent 6’0”, 208-pound right shot defenseman that should turn into an NHL regular. He had three goals and 25 points in his freshman season with BU this season. In 37 games played, he had 39 blocked shots and was a plus-10. McAvoy also had a plus-5 rating with the bronze medal-winning United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Unknown-1.png

9) Montreal Canadiens–> RW Alexander Nylander, Mississauga (OHL)

Nylander had four goals, five assists and nine points for the Swedes at the 2016 World Junior Championship. The 6’0”, 180-poung brother of Maple Leafs forward,William Nylander, Alexander Nylander is built for NHL stardom one day having led the Mississauga Steelheads with 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games in his first OHL season. The dynamic skater also had nine power play goals and can separate himself from other skaters on the ice with ease.

He’s going to be picked by a rival of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The question is which one?

Unknown-1

10) Colorado Avalanche–> C Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL)

Brown is a big— 6’6”, 222-pound— skilled center with speed and puck handling skills that will definitely come in handy for a team looking for a playmaker that could become like some of the best two-way players in the NHL. It’s hard to find someone like him with his size at his position (a la Joe Thornton), but the Avalanche could utilize his strengths given the uncertainty of their relationship with Matt Duchene.

Brown had 21 goals and 74 points in 59 games with the Windsor Spitfires this season. He also had 29 points on the power play and won 53% of his faceoffs, which is a big plus for a team like Colorado that is looking for their next Joe Sakic or Peter Forsberg.

New Jersey Devils Logo

11) New Jersey Devils–> D Jake Bean, Calgary (WHL)

The Devils could use a young defenseman to pair with their existing protégé, Adam Larsson, especially considering the offensive upside of Jake Bean. The 6’0”, 173-pound offensive defenseman is an excellent skater that makes smart passes and carries his own weight. Given some time to strengthen up a bit, Bean could use his stick, body and talent to be a force on the blue line in New Jersey alongside the likes of Larsson. The Devils need to improve their offense, but they also need a more immediate plan for their defense to take some of the load off of the often-underrated Cory Schneider in goal.

Unknown-6.png

12) Ottawa Senators–> D Mikhail Sergachev, Windsor (OHL)

Sergachev is a big 6’2”, 208-pound defenseman that brings an offensive side to his game as the best defenseman in the OHL in his first season in North America. His two-way presence along the blue line should be enough to make the Senators happy to see the likes of another potential Erik Karlsson on their team. Sergachev plays with confidence and speed and had 17 goals and 57 points in 67 games with the Windsor Spitfires in his rookie season.

He also had 31 points on the power play this season. In the wake of the Dion Phaneuf trade, one would think that the last thing Ottawa needs is another temporarily unreliable defenseman, however, Sergachev brings the total package that Phaneuf may not be able to produce on the regular and adds some much needed balance to their youthful blue line.

Carolina Hurricanes Logo

13) Carolina Hurricanes–> C Clayton Keller, USA U-18 (USHL)

Keller is a smart, skilled and speedy 5’9”, 168-pound center with a left-shot that could lead him to the NHL. He led the USA’s U-18 program with 70 assists and 107 points in 62 games and had four goals and 10 points in seven games at the 2016 IIHF World U-18 Championship en route to a bronze medal.

In the post-Eric Staal era (unless they bring him back in free agency), the Hurricanes need to rebuild down the middle. Keller is committed to Boston University in 2016-2017 and was also selected in the second round (40th overall) of the 2014 OHL Draft by the Windsor Spitfires. In either case, he’s got a chance of developing quite nicely as Carolina doesn’t need to rush things, despite lacking immediate depth at center.

Unknown-7.png

14) Boston Bruins–> RW Julien Gauthier, Val-d’Or (QMJHL)

The Bruins are trying to find their next Milan Lucic. Either that or they’re picking someone who will give Jimmy Hayes a run for his money. Gauthier is a 6’3”, 225-pound power forward that can skate and score. His 41-11-57 totals in 54 games for Val-d’Or are impressive enough to make him a tactical selection by Boston. Of note, he was the only 2016 NHL Draft-eligible player to play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship where he had two assists in five games played.

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.

Call Off the Cover Vote, the Sharks Have Already Won (at least on Twitter)

By: Nick Lanciani

Look, I know that 1) this is not like one of our usual posts, 2) we have a huge Vladimir Tarasenko fan at DTFR, 3) we try to stay impartial (but I’m going to campaign anyway for Joe Pavelski) and 4) some of you hate cover votes for any sports related video game, but I’m going to tell you why this is awesome and the San Jose Sharks are the best team on Twitter right now.

As you all know, the Sharks have these inner-state rivals known as the Los Angeles Kings that normally own the Twitter game when it comes to any and all professional sports organizations on the social media platform. One doesn’t have to look to far to see that the Kings are sometimes the kings of Twitter (and it’s not just because they’re usually a nice organization).

And they’ve had their fair share of memorable #NHL17CoverVote moments this season…

But let’s be honest, short of updating their profile picture and tweeting some GIFs and Photoshopped images of Anze Kopitar, the Kings didn’t go all in on owning everyone else.

Now that it’s down to the Cover Vote Final between St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko and San Jose’s Joe Pavelski we’re sure to see even more annoying, timeline clogging, feed filling monstrosities created in an attempt to generate enough of a PR stunt to get more than like, four people, to tweet, retweet and keep tweeting for their favorite player to be on the cover of NHL 17.

Sometimes I wonder whether any of their efforts are effective. How could any of this possibly work? How in the world do they think they’ll be able to attract more than just those four crazy fans that all think they have a shot at becoming best friends with Pavelski or Tarasenko instantaneously, the moment they tweet #NHL17Pavelski or #NHL17Tarasenko and keep tweeting it a million different times in a million different ways for each and every one of their votes to count? (That was long winded).

I’ll admit, I was once a heavy #NHL15Bergeron abuser, but in my defense let me clear the air and acknowledge my bias towards one of my favorite players of all time, next to Joe Sakic and Bobby Orr. So there.

Folks, we’re in the midst of one of the greatest, underdog-led, Stanley Cup Playoffs where the St. Louis Blues have already made the Western Conference Finals and the San Jose Sharks are playing in a Game 7 with the Nashville Predators tonight to see if they can further combat the #NHL17Tarasenko front, as the other team in the Western Conference Final.

If the Sharks win, the stage will be set for one of the greatest battles of all-time both on the ice and off the ice. Captain America (Joe Pavelski) against Vladimir Tarasenko. Surely it sets up a stage of Rocky proportions? Oh wait, San Jose already has you covered there.

If the Sharks make the Western Conference Final, I fully expect them to include this photo on every tweet announcing a Pavelski goal or a Tarasenko penalty.

They’re already in the midst of one of their best seasons ever, off the ice, with their vintage teal all season long bringing back memories and fans across every rink in the NHL and San Jose already dethroned the Kings in the First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But now, they’ve won the most important thing of them all (okay, maybe not as important as the Cup)— they’ve won Twitter.

It’s not just because of their numerous cover photo mockups that rival the Mona Lisa.

Joe Pavelski-Lisa.jpg

Actually, come to think of it…

The Sharks won Twitter with this video.

This video beats everything. This video is hilarious.

Nothing— not even an autographed Tarasenko jersey giveaway— could top the genuine, fine-American, comedic genius that is Joe Pavelski and the San Jose Sharks social media team.

And besides, I’m sure they’ll be giving away plenty of autographed memorabilia, when Pavelski leads the Sharks (and America) to glory on the cover on NHL 17.

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.

Pavelski leads the way (again) as Sharks top Predators 5-1 in Game 5

By: Nick Lanciani 

UnknownJoe 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.

UnknownRoman 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.

Blues Cruise (to 4-1 Win in Game 5)

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Ken Hitchcock made one lineup change heading into Game 5 on Saturday afternoon and it paid off for the St. Louis Blues as Dmitrij Jaskin’s second period goal proved to be the game winner en route to the Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

Brian Elliott made 27 saves on 28 shots faced (with a .964 SV%) for St. Louis in the win, while Kari Lehtonen made 18 saves on 21 shots against for a .857 SV% in the loss.

Dallas forwards, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves were doubtful for Game 5 and remained scratched prior to puck drop. Ryan Reaves and Steve Ott were healthy scratches for St. Louis as Jaskin was inserted into the lineup. The winner of Game 5 has an all-time series record of 190-53 (78.2%) among teams entering Game 5 tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven game series. With the win on Saturday, the Blues now have a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 on Monday night at Scottrade Center.

Robby Fabbri opened up the scoring six minutes into the first period with his 2nd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Kevin Shattenkirk (7) assisted on the goal that gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead. A little after halfway through the first period the Stars had answered with a goal of their own from Alex Goligoski. Goligoski scored his 4th goal of the postseason with a wrist shot that beat Elliott at 10:58 of the first period and tied the game at 1. Vernon Fiddler (2) and Jason Spezza (8) picked up the primary and secondary assists.

After twenty minutes of play the score was tied 1-1 and Dallas was leading in shots on goal (10-8), faceoff wins (6-4), giveaways (3-1) and takeaways (3-2). The Blues led in hits (12-8) and blocked shots (5-1) after the first period.

Jaskin scored his 1st goal of the playoffs a little over ten minutes into the 2nd period and gave the Blues a 2-1 lead. Jay Bouwmeester (4) and Scottie Upshall (2) assisted on the goal and St. Louis never looked back the rest of the game. Troy Brouwer picked up his 4th of the postseason on a wrist shot that beat Lehtonen and was assisted by Paul Stastny (4) and Fabbri (8) at 17:42 of the period. Brouwer’s goal put the Blues up by two and gave them a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.

Leading by two after two, St. Louis also led in shots on goal (19-16), hits (24-23) and blocked shots (12-9). Meanwhile the Stars had an advantage in faceoff wins (17-13), giveaways (7-2) and takeaways (5-2). Through forty minutes of play, there were no penalties called.

CJhyiLmKA string of penalties were called in the third period in what seemed to be pent up penalty calling anger from the refs as David Backes, Brouwer, Mattias Janmark, Fiddler and Shattenkrik were all penalized within ten minutes of one another for minor infractions ranging from holding to slashing to roughing.

Neither team was able to capitalize on any power play that occurred.

With about four minutes left in the third period, Stars head coach, Lindy Ruff signaled for Kari Lehtonen to skate to the bench for an extra attacker. Despite their efforts with an extra skater, Dallas was unable to convert on their last ditch chances. Stastny ruined the fun for Dallas and their fans with an empty net goal at 18:20 of the third period. His 2nd goal of the playoffs gave the Blues a 4-1 lead and was assisted by Jaden Schwartz (7) and Backes (4).

When all was said and done the Blues had won 4-1 and led in hits (29-26), takeaways (7-5) and blocked shots (20-15) after sixty minutes of play. The Stars led in shots on goal (28-22), faceoff wins (30-20) and giveaways (12-6) in the loss. Both teams were 0/2 on the power play.

Game 6 is Monday night at 8 PM EST, live from Scottrade Center in St. Louis, and can be viewed on NBCSN in the United States and CBC and TVAS2 in Canada.

Tampa Emerges Victorious in OT For Second Straight Game, Stretches Series Lead to 3-1.

Unknown-1

The New York Islanders lost a heartbreaker at home in overtime by the score of 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second straight game that went past 60 minutes and where the Lightning came from behind to tie and eventually win in OT.

New York looked to avenge their 5-4 OT loss to the Lightning on Tuesday Night. Both teams had a couple bone crunching hits in Game 3, so everyone was wondering if that would boil over into tonight’s game. Besides that fact, tonight’s matchup will be intense for sure and I was not wrong.

Both New York and Tampa Bay started out very physical with the teams combining for 6 hits in the first 2:30 of the game  The Islanders got the first chance to score in the opening frame with an opportunity in front that was shut down by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. After Bishop froze the puck, a big scrum ensued in front of the net with all the Islanders trying to poke the puck in. While all the Lightning players took offense to the Islanders poking their goalie and stood their ground.

From this scuffle the games first penalty was taken thanks to Lightning enforcer Mike Blunden getting called for a two-minute infraction for roughing on New York center Ryan Strome at 2:44 of the first. New York would go to their first manpower advantage of the game looking to strike early. The Islanders would get their wish thanks to Kyle Okposo aka Booker T. The Islanders chance to strike on the power play was winding down and things were not looking so good. Fortunately, Islanders center Frans Nielsen held the puck in at the left-hand dot and slid the puck down to fellow line-mate Nikolay Kulemin below the goal line. Kulemin spotted alternate captain Kyle Okposo in the slot and hit him with a one touch pass. Okposo wasted no time with the puck on his stick and roofed it high glove side to put the Islanders up 1-0 just 4:20 into the first. This was Okposo’s first goal since scoring in Round 1 Game 1 against the Florida Panthers.

The games next scoring chance would fall to the Islanders as well. Just five minutes later Islanders rookie Shane Prince came down the left-hand side and put a wrister on net. Prince’s shot was turned away by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, but he put the rebound right in the slot. Islanders superstar John Tavares picked the puck up and put a shot on net that beat Bishop blocker side but not the post and hit the iron and came right out. A definite chance that we will probably look back to as this game goes on.

Tampa Bay vet Ryan Callahan would then take a double minor for roughing Islander D-man Thomas Hickey. New York would go on a four-minute power play looking to cash in again to double their lead before the period ended. Although thanks to stellar penalty killing, Tampa Bay was able to kill off the long man advantage and only gave up 1 shot in the process. The first period ended with the Islanders up by the score of 1-0.

The second period started off just like the first one did with a penalty early. This time just 1:33 into the period, the roles were reversed and the Islanders went on the penalty kill with 4th liner Casey Cizikas getting a two-minute tripping call on Lightning star Ondrej Palat. To start the PP, New York goalie Thomas Greiss lost a skate blade and had to leave the ice for a repair. So New York was forced to call upon newcomer goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (first NHL playoff action) while Greiss is being attended too in the locker room. Tampa’s first power play of the game was ineffective as they only managed two weak shots and Berube shut them down so New York killed it off with poise.

Thomas Greiss was able to come back after only missing 4:47 in total time. Berube only faced two shots in his brief call to action and showed a strong confidence in himself. If he were to be called upon again, I am sure Islanders coach Jack Capuano will have a lot of faith in Berube to get the job done.

New York would get the next prime scoring chance again at the 10:22 mark of period two. Islanders 1st line center John Tavares dished some backhand sauce and sent Kyle Okposo in on a mini-breakaway in the slot. Okposo received the puck on his backhand and quickly turned the puck to his forehand and released a quick shot on net. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was up to the task and stoned Okposo with his glove and kept the score at 1-0 half way through the second frame.

The Lightning would get their second power play of the game with 11:42 gone as New York defender Johnny Boychuk slashed Tampa winger Ondrej Palat. New York penalty killers made that kill look easy and didn’t even allow a single shot and killed off the penalty. Then almost seven minutes later the Lightning would get their third power play and another chance to tie the game as they went back on the power play. Islander winger Brock Nelson got two minutes for tripping Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin. Just 17 seconds later, on the penalty kill no less, New York defenseman Calvin de Haan was in alone in front and tried going 5-hole on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Haan was robbed on the breakaway with Bishop’s pad. Bishop was able to keep his team’s deficit still at one.

After that mishap, Tampa was able to stay in the offensive zone for almost the whole power play. Tampa was only able to get two shots on net, and thanks to killer shot blocking from the Islanders penalty killers they were able to get back to full strength. The second period ended with the score still sitting at 1-0.

The third period started off with a 5-10 minute delay because the glass/stanchion was broken in the rink so they had to fix it. As the game resumed, both teams started out strong. New York and Tampa Bay traded shots and chances back to back but no team was really able to gain momentum.

New York Islanders Logo

 

Tampa Bay was finally able to break through and get one past Thomas Greiss. Tampa went to work behind the net in the offensive zone to try and get the puck. Lightning center Tyler Johnson was able to come out of the pile of players with the puck below the goal line. He found fellow 1st liner, Nikita Kucherov on the left-hand dot. Johnson delivered a perfect pass right in Kucherov’s wheelhouse. Kucherov one-timed the puck short side on Greiss to level the score to  1-1 at the 7:49 mark of the third. This was Kucherov’s league leading 8th goal of the playoffs.

After Kucherov’s tieing goal the Islanders and the Lightning had a couple prime scoring chances. Goalies Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop were both stellar and didn’t let anything get past them. The third period ended 1-1. So now the game will be decided in sudden death overtime, just like Game 3 did. Tampa won Game 3 in OT thanks to Dan Boyle so the Islanders were definitely looking for revenge.

Well, Tampa Bay and New York obviously did not want to play triple OT like the Predators and the Sharks did last night because it took just 1:34 into the first overtime frame to get a winner. Tampa Bay had ALL the pressure to start off the OT and that’s how they scored the game winner. Tampa defensemen Andrej Sustr corralled fellow D-man Jason Garrison’s blocked shot in the left-hand corner and slid up to the point. Sustr located Garrison at the right-hand point and threw a beautiful pass over into Garrison’s sweet spot. Garrison unloaded a nasty one-timer that beat New York goalie Greiss far side past his blocker to end the game. It was the shortest overtime played this postseason.

Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss saved 20 out of 22 shots for a .909 SV% as well as J.F. Berube stopped the two shots he faced in emergency relief. Tampa goalie Ben Bishop stopped 27 out of 28 shots for a .964 SV%.

New York led in shots (28-24), faceoffs (29-22), and hits (45-29). Tampa only led in blocked shots (22-10). While the teams tied in penalty minutes (6-6) and giveaways (13-13). The Islanders were 1/3 on the Power Play and the Lightning were 0/3.

Tampa Bay put a major dagger in New York’s playoff hopes with tonight’s win. Their win now has them leading 3 games to 1 in the series (3-1). These two teams will play again on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm in Tampa, Florida where the Lightning will look to end the series on home ice.

Mike Fisher’s Triple OT Winner Evens the Series

By Colby Kephart

UnknownThe 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.

UnknownThe 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.

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.