The San Jose Sharks were looking for a faster start against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Sunday.
After going two periods without a goal, the Sharks roared back with five goals in the third period of Game 1 on Friday night. San Jose’s first and third goals came on the power play. Thus, special teams can be a big part of the series.
The Predators, however, haven’t had two days off in a row since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began. Nashville has played a game every other day since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks on April 15.
Both teams received minor penalties in the opening period, but were unable to capitalize on their man advantages.
The Sharks went on their first power play of the game after Roman Josi was called for cross checking Chris Tierney at 6:24.
About seven minutes later, Joel Ward was called for tripping Craig Smith, allowing the Predators to go on their first power play of the game.
San Jose was shorthanded, but successfully killed the penalty behind strong work by Tierney and Nick Spaling.
The game was scoreless after 20 minutes. Nashville outshot San Jose 10-7.
With 4:44 left in the second period, too many men were on the ice. As a result, Joonas Donskoi went to the penalty box and the Predators received their second power play.
Another penalty was then called for too many men on the ice. This time, San Jose went on the power play and capitalized on it. Brent Burns’ shot went back, but Logan Couture found it and slammed a rebound past Pekka Rinne for a power play goal, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead with 1:24 left in the second. Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns provided the assists on Couture’s fourth postseason goal.
The Sharks led 1-0 after 40 minutes. Nashville outshot San Jose 25-16.
Just 6:34 into the third period, Brenden Dillon was called for roughing Ryan Johansen. The Predators went on their third power play, but couldn’t take advantage of it.
Mattias Elkholm beat Martin Jones by enclosing a pass with his skate and firing a snap shot to tie the game 1-1 at the 12:46 mark. Colin Wilson and Roman Josi provided the assists on Elkholm’s third postseason goal.
Joe Pavelski scored a go-ahead goal at 17:20 to put the Sharks up 2-1. Pavelski slammed the rebound by the left pad of Rinne. Matt Nieto and Joe Thornton provided the assists on Pavelski’s sixth postseason goal.
The Predators pulled Rinne late in the third.
Joe Thornton provided an insurance run with 56 seconds left. Thornton slid the puck into an empty net to make it 3-1 Sharks. Couture and Pavelski provided the assists on Thornton’s second postseason goal.
Johansen chipped a puck by the blocker of Jones, pulling the Predators within one goal with just four seconds left in the final period.
The Predators were so close, but ran out of time.
The Sharks picked up a 3-2 victory over the Predators in Game 2. Martin Jones made 37 saves for San Jose. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves for Nashville.
The Sharks lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.
It was clear Team Teal was considerate during their postgame interviews.
“We knew it was a game we had to earn,” captain Joe Pavelski said.
“We needed a big goal so I stepped up. . .my team did the rest, ” center Logan Couture. “But we’ll take it. We’ll be on the road and will try to win in a tough building.”
“Well we won. I think in the playoffs, you have to win all kinds of different ways. I really like their first period, I liked their desperation level, but our desperation level was higher in the second and third periods,” stated head coach Peter DeBoer.
When asked for his opinion on Pavelski, DeBoer was direct in his response. He asserted “I think he’s a better person than a hockey player. He stands for all the right things. He’s a family man. He’s a professional who shows up to work early and stays late. All he cares about is winning. . .Where do you find guys that get 100 points and block shots and kill penalties and win faceoffs and go to the dirty areas of the ice? I can count on my hand the number of guys in the league that do that.”
The Sharks will use the same lineup it has used in each of its six playoff games. Goaltender Martin Jones will make his seventh straight start.
San Jose had an optional practice, but many regulars spent more than a few minutes on the ice.
The Predators stayed off the ice Saturday, opting for rest.
Predators second-line right wing Craig Smith (lower body) was injured in Game 3 of Nashville’s first-round victory against the Ducks. His status is unknown.
Up Next: The Sharks will visit the Predators on Tuesday for Game 3. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 pm CT on TVA, USA.