The San Jose Sharks were ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Nashville Predators at SAP Center on Friday.
The Sharks advanced to the second round by eliminating the Los Angeles Kings in five games. San Jose hasn’t played since April 22.
The Predators had their first Game 7 on Wednesday and defeated the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks 2-1 to clinch the series.
The Sharks and Predators met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time. San Jose defeated Nashville in the first round in 2006 and 2007 in five games each time.
This season, Nashville won two of three games against San Jose.
Game 1 was a non-sellout, despite an announced attendance of 17,026. However, the Shark Tank was pretty loud with a lot of fans waving their rally towels in the air.
Early in the opening period, the Sharks nearly had a goal. Melker Karlsson’s backhand shot was saved by Pekka Rinne, but the net bounced sideways. Video replay showed the puck never crossed the goal line so the game remained scoreless.
The Predators went on their first power play at 10:52 after Karlsson was called for tripping Filip Forsberg. But the Sharks managed to kill off the minor penalty.
The game was tied 0-0 after 20 minutes. Nashville outshot San Jose 12-11. Pekka Rinne was unbelievable and made tremendous saves to prevent Sharks players such as Karlsson and Tomas Hertl from scoring.
The Predators went on their second power play just 2:45 into the second period after Matt Nieto was called for tripping Colin Wilson. The second time was a charm because Nashville capitalized on the man advantage. Mike Fisher scored his second goal of the playoffs. Fisher beat Martin Jones off a flawless cross-ice pass from Ryan Johansen to give Nashville a 1-0 lead at 4:33.
Shortly after the Predators’ power play goal, Eric Nystrom was called for interference against Brenden Dillon, sending the Sharks to their first power play of the night. San Jose had some quality chances on the power play, but were unable to capitalize.
Martin Jones stopped a Predators’ breakaway to keep the Sharks within one in the final seconds of the second period.
The Predators led 1-0 after 40 minutes, despite the Sharks outshooting Nashville 25-22.
Just 50 seconds into the third period, Ryan Johansen was called for holding Joe Pavelski. The Sharks went on their second power play and took advantage of it. Tomas Hertl slipped a shot under the glove of Rinne on the power play from in close, tying the game 1-1 at 2:37 with a power play goal.
Peter DeBoer jumbled up his bottom six in the middle of the third. The Sharks had Marleau-Tierney-Karlsson and Nieto-Spaling-Wingels.
Joel Ward scored the go-ahead goal by stopping Rinne and slipping a backhand shot around his pad and glove, giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 11:49.
Calle Jarnkrok was called for high sticking Joonas Donskoi. San Jose cashed in on their third power play chance. Logan Couture added to the Sharks’ lead by tipping in Pavelski’s pass by the glove of Rinne for a power play goal, putting his team ahead 3-1 at 15:40.
Ryan Johansen then brought the Predators within one at 18:11. The puck deflected off Johansen in front and trickled past Jones.
Twenty seconds later, Couture scored his second goal of the game. He fired the puck into the empty net to restore the Sharks’ lead to 4-2.
Tommy Wingels added on to the Sharks’ lead with an unassisted, empty net goal, making it 5-2 with 50 seconds left in regulation.
The Sharks used a gigantic third period to defeat the Predators 5-2 in Game 1. Martin Jones made 29 saves for San Jose. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for Nashville.
When asked if the Sharks were planning to be more aggressive in the third period, captain Joe Pavelski responded with “We were down by a goal. No question about it.”
“The score was down, but everything went up real fast,” stated forward Tomas Hertl. “I thought building might fall down. It was pretty noisy.”
Alternate captain Logan Couture complimented Pekka Rinne and described how his team played a really good goaltender.
Head coach Peter DeBoer’s postgame press conference capped off the Sharks’ impressive night.
“We’re a good 5-on-5 team. I think we can do some damage,” asserted DeBoer.
When questioned about the importance of winning Game 1 in the best-of-seven series, DeBoer replied “I think it’s critical. Coming off the break, we had some questions about how we would be, and I saw some of the effects of that in the first two periods. But we found a way. Jones made some saves and let us hang around and survive the game. We got going, so to be able to come out of Game 1 with a win even though I didn’t think we played our best 60 minutes, it was good. I think we’ll be better in Game 2.”
The Sharks had a brief, up-tempo practice Thursday, doing some on-ice work specifically geared toward playing the Predators.
San Jose spent much of practice working on their power play, which ranked third in the regular season and is seventh in the playoffs.
Peter DeBoer will use the same lines, defensive pairs and goaltender in Game 1 that he used all five games against the Kings.
Pekka Rinne will be in goal for the eighth straight playoff game.
The Predators played its third game in five days Wednesday, stayed off the ice Thursday and traveled to San Jose.
Up Next: Both teams will meet again in Game 2 on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 pm PT on TVA and NBCSN.