For the second consecutive game between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, Patrick Marleau’s overtime heroics proved to be the difference maker.
After putting on a highlight reel performance in the third period when the Sharks out shot the Preds 13-4, Pekka Rinne allowed Marleau’s break away shot in to the net as the Preds fell, 3-2. The play started when the Preds had three players deep and Marleau had a three-on-one rush and never considered a pass.
In spite of allowing the final goal, Rinne was clearly the Predators MVP once again as he kept the Preds tied in regulation which gave them a point to keep the team one point out of the last playoff position at the end of a tough road trip.
The Sharks’s other goals came from Ryane Clowe and Justin Braun while the Predators’ tallies came from Joel Ward and Shea Weber.
Antti Niemi was the winner in net but did not face near the barrage of shots that Rinne did. Niemi stopped 23 of 25 shots while Rinne allowed three goals on 33 shots.
The Predators started the game with plenty of jump and pressure on the Sharks defense and were out shooting San Jose 7-1 at the first TV timeout at 6:32. However it was the Sharks that scored first at 8:17 in the first period when Dany Heatley fired a shot from the left board that Rinne stopped but Clowe put the rebound into the net for a 1-0 San Jose lead.
Ward answered for the Predators on the power play at 14:22 and made it 1-1 when he took the puck from the right of the Sharks net and made a wrap-around type move while the Sharks defender failed to make a move to stop him.
In the first period, the Preds out shot the Sharks, 13-10 with Ward firing four shots towards Niemi in what was perhaps his best period of hockey.
The second period was a little less wide open. The Sharks retook the lead at 4:17 on a power play goal that was tipped and deflected by Jerred Smithson as he was trying to block it. Braun unleashed the shot that probably would have been handled if not for the tip.
The Predators tied the game again at 6:08 when David Legwand gave Weber a feed for an open backdoor shot that was delivered to the net as Weber dived for the puck.
For the second period, the Sharks led in shots, 7-6.
There was no scoring in the final period but almost all of the action took place in the Predators defensive zone. While the shots were lopsided at 13-4, in the final period and overtime.
The Predators were dreadful in the faceoff circle, winning only 23 of the 64 draws. The Sharks led in takeaways, 17-3, adding to the mismatch.
Kevin Klein was hit in the foot wit a puck in the last minute of regulation and did not return for overtime. No prognosis was given.
The Predators return home and play another critical game on Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena against the Minnesota Wild who are a point ahead of Nashville in ninth place.