Predators 3, Sharks 2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -If the Nashville Predators are going to earn their fifth straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs they are going to have to duplicate their performance against the San Jose Sharks several more times down the stretch.
The Predators got points from six players Thursday night in a 3-2 win over the Sharks, who are tied with Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.
"Playing as a team is how we are going to win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It is not going to be one individual putting us on his back. It's going to be what you saw tonight with all of our guys pulling together with all they have."
The Predators fell behind 1-0 in the first period when Christian Ehrhoff found Joe Pavelski midway in the slot. Pavelski sent a wrist shot past Pekka Rinne
, beating him to his stick side with 4:37 left.
San Jose took a 2-0 lead on the power play when Devin Setoguchi put his stick on a rebound and got the puck past Rinne from the left side 3:12 into the second.
Nashville had gone 12 straight home games without allowing a power-play goal. The Sharks were 2-of-4 on the power play, including a chance in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game.
"I thought the first period was one of the strongest periods we have played in a while," Trotz said. "We were down 1-0, but I didn't think San Jose had anything but the power play for the most part for two periods."
San Jose played the second of back-to-back games. The Predators wanted to take advantage of the scheduling by pushing as hard as they could against the Sharks from the opening faceoff.
"They were a tired team after a long game in Chicago," Nashville forward Steve Sullivan
said. "So we took it to them early and often in the first period, and carried the momentum well into the second period. Even though they had the 2-0 lead, we thought we were the fresher team and if we kept on going after them good things would happen."
The Predators rallied with three goals in a span of 2:38
"I told our players after the first period that if they kept on doing what they were doing, kept the pace and kept pushing that things would fall into place," Trotz said. "We had three quick goals there. If San Jose had scored the third one before we scored I think it would have been game, set and match."
The Predators scored a power-play goal 7:34 into the second when Shea Weber
backhanded a pass across the crease to Radek Bonk, who skated in from the right side and beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Trotz thought Bonk's play, along with that of his linemates Jerred Smithson
and Jordin Tootoo
, was crucial.
"The first goal was big because we had to break the ice a little bit," Trotz said. "The bottom line is we played a real strong game and the credit goes to Bonk.
"I think he was outstanding playing against Joe Thornton all night. That whole line was really solid."
Nashville tied it at 2 when Steve Sullivan
found Martin Erat
near the left post and made a short pass to him. Erat pushed the puck between the post and Nabokov at 9:33.
Greg Zanon gave the Predators the lead at 10:12 from high in the slot just inside the blue line with a slap shot to the glove side. Zanon is known more for blocking shots than scoring winning goals.
"I got a good screen," Zanon said of his fourth goal of the season. "It wasn't a hard shot, but it was one of those things where you just want to get the puck to the net no matter what."
The Sharks were concerned with their inability to score at even strength.
"We didn't score a goal 5-on-5, and that's obviously been one of the big problems the last few months," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We need to show more poise and patience with the puck.
"There's not much time left to fine tune this thing. We obviously need to play better hockey, and it hasn't been good enough consistently."
Notes: Nashville C David Legwand
missed the game after being hit in the side of the face with a puck during practice Wednesday. ... Patrick Marleau rejoined the Sharks after missing a game at Chicago on Wednesday so he could be home with his wife for the birth of their second child, Brody, on Wednesday. ... Setoguchi, who scored two goals Wednesday in San Jose's 6-5 loss, netted his 30th of the season. ... Nashville recalled Cal O'Reilly
for the second time this season to fill in for Legwand.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On playing the No. 2 team in the league…
I expected them to play with a lot of resiliency. I thought we played a really strong game. The first period was one of our strongest periods in awhile and when we were down 1-0, I didn’t think that they had anything other than the power play working. After the first, I knew we had to keep doing the same things, keep up the pace, push the net and execute the plays.
On scoring three goals during the second period…
We had the three goals there in a row. That first one was a big goal because we had to break the ice a little bit. With that third goal I think that was probably “game, set and match” because the power play came through and gave us a big goal.
On the crowd…
With the crowd, you could just feel the energy and it exploded the building, which they always do. The guys stayed on it, we got a couple of quick goals, and went to the net really hard.
On the outcome of the game…
Bottom line, we just played a really strong game. Credit goes to Radek Bonk. I think he was outstanding playing against Joe Thornton all night; that whole line, actually, with Smithson and Tootoo, was really solid. Everything was solid, including the goaltending.
On the younger guys stepping up because of Legwand’s injury…
One thing is that you have to ask guys to step up and play a higher role. Some guys embrace the challenge and are able to do something and some guys wither. We’ve talked about having no excuses.
On missing key players in tonight’s game…
We went into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year against the top team in the Western Conference without Scott Nichol, Jason Arnott and David Legwand, and we pushed them hard. Everybody talks about having the opportunities and just embracing the opportunities. We are pretty close to the finish line and there is no reason to make any excuses. We talked about playing as a team because that is how we are going to win.
Forward Steve Sullivan
On the final power-play the Sharks received in the closing minutes of the game…
We were a little upset, but I believe we channeled our energy the right way and we were back on the ice doing the right things that we needed to do to get back in the hockey game. We fed off of it, I think we fed off each other a lot in tonight’s game. We are really pleased with the performance tonight.
On San Jose coming out strong in the third period…
I thought they came out hard, for the first 10 minutes at least, we answered them well. It was still back-and-forth then they got a power-play that actually gave us momentum. We held in there really strong.
On what turned them around in the second period…
They were a tired team tonight after a long game in Chicago, so we took it to them early and often in the first period, and carried that momentum well into the second period. Even though they had the 2-0 lead, we thought we were the fresher team and if we kept going after them good things would happen.
Defenseman Greg Zanon
On scoring two goals in two minutes…
It was just a momentum change. It all started when Jordan Tootoo went after them hard, their defense started coughing up pucks, they began to look over their shoulders more and when that happens and you have that fear that you are about to get laid out, things start to happen. We got that one big goal by Radek Bonk to start us off. We saw the chance, what we call “tilting the ice,” so we tilted the ice our way. Scoring three goals like that made them tighten up so we got to play our defensive style.
On his goal…
I got a good screen on my goal, it wasn’t a hard shot, but it was one of those things where you just want to get the puck to the net no matter what.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
On missing top two centers….
It is so great for our younger guys like Cal O’Reilly tonight, and other guys that are just stepping up. It’s always tough to lose those kind of players, we miss them of course, but at the same time our guys are doing a great job filling those holes.
On competing every single game…
It gives you a huge confidence booster to come out of games with a win, especially if they are a good team like the Sharks. We know that after losing a couple periods we can always come back and that’s a good thing right now.
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