The San Jose Sharks used four unanswered goals in the second half of Saturday night’s game at the Sommet Center to top the Predators, 5-2, in front of 13,298. The victory by the visitors ended a stretch of seven consecutive regular-season home victories for the Preds against the Sharks dating back to Nov. 27, 2002. It was also just the second time in the last 14 games that the road team has been victorious in the series.
J.P. Dumont and Alexander Radulov scored Nashville’s two goals, while Milan Michalek (2a), Matthew Carle (1g-1a), Joe Thornton (2a) and Steve Bernier (1g-2a) all had multiple-point games for the Sharks.
The energy level on the ice was high from the get-go, but other than a select few chances, the Sharks carried the play, and took a 1-0 lead at the 10:25 mark of the first. Marcel Goc got the goal, putting a juicy rebound high glove-side past Nashville goaltender Chris Mason.
After the first goal, the remainder of the period was a bit disjointed, primarily because of the five penalty calls – three to the Sharks and two to the Preds – that resulted in constant stoppages and very little time to establish a presence in the opposition’s zone. San Jose ultimately used a 5-0 shot advantage to start the game to double up Nashville for the opening 20 minutes, 10-5.
The second period brought different fortunes for the Preds though, as they struck just 63 seconds into the frame. He was quite possibly Nashville’s best skater in the first frame, and Dumont was rewarded with the equalizing goal, snapping a second-chance try past Evgeni Nabokov after his first try was blocked directly back to him. Radulov sparked the play, finding Dumont in the right face-off circle from behind the goal line.
Radek Bonk picked up the secondary assist, giving him one helper in four consecutive games.
Martin Gelinas nearly gave the Predators the lead 4:20 later, when he raced in on a breakaway, but he was stymied by the workhorse netminder. The pressure ultimately paid off at the 6:31 mark, though, thanks to an innocent-looking wrist shot and a screen in front. This time Radulov took away the goalie’s eyes and tipped in a Kevin Klein shot for his third goal in three games. Greg Zanon, who gained entry into the San Jose zone and fed Klein, notched the secondary assist. The assist was Zanon’s third of the year and first since Nov. 24 against Minnesota.
A picture-perfect shot by Craig Rivet knotted the match at 2-2. Rivet lasered a slap shot from his position on the blue line that caught both post and crossbar in beating Mason to the blocker side.
Darcy Hordichuk attempts to bury a centering feed past goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a quick one timer during the first period on Saturday
San Jose’s intensity level picked up following its second goal, and it again generated some quality scoring chances, but Mason stood tall, gobbling up rebounds to prevent rebound chances.
San Jose recaptured the lead via a power-play goal at the four-minute mark of the third when Michalek set up Carle at the blue line for a one timer. Mason never saw the shot, as it found its way through a crowd in front and between his legs.
Rookie Torrey Mitchell gave San Jose the first two-goal lead of the contest at 8:23 of the final frame, popping a snap shot from the left face-off dot that handcuffed Mason, beating him high to the near side.
The Predators received a couple of man-advantage opportunities of their own down the stretch, but were only able to muster three shots on the power play, and finished 0-for-5.
J.P. Dumont and Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren race for a loose puck. Dumont scored Nashville's first of two goals on Saturday.
San Jose’s fifth goal did didn’t come on the power play, but rather five seconds after one ended at 14:16 of the third. With the Preds goal scrambling to find the puck, Bernier snuck one through his five-hole to cap a three-point night. Joe Thornton picked up his second assist of the evening on the tally, while Carle also pitched in a helper.
The Sharks accumulated a 10-6 shot advantage in the third for a cumulative shot edge of 29-21.
The Predators return to action on New Year’s Eve, when they travel to Dallas to take on the Stars. Game time is slate for 7:30, and there is no local television coverage of the contest, but all the action can be followed on WGFX-104.5 The Zone.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Vernon Fiddler, while San Jose sat Doug Murray and Curtis Brown… Alexander Radulov now has goals in three straight games… The Predators are 10-7-1 at home, 3-16-1 when allowing the first goal, 4-4-1 when tied after 40 minutes and 9-8-1 when outshot… The Predators won 55 percent of tonight’s face offs, led by Jason Arnott, who won 13-of-19 draws… Ville Koistinen and Darcy Hordichuk paced the Preds with three hits each… Dan Hamhuis played a team-high 23:29… The Predators finished 2-for-3 on the penalty kill… The next time these teams meet is on Feb. 9 at HP Pavilion in Silicon Valley.
PREDATORS GOALTENDER CHRIS MASON On the game…
I thought the first two periods we played well and the third period they took over and the fourth goal wasn’t great but other than that we’ve got to be stronger in our building in the third period.
On San Jose’s road play…
That was our first game (against San Jose at home this year). They are really good down low and they are big and they are really good at cycling behind the net and they have size and skill which is a pretty good combination.
PREDATORS DEFENSEMEN KEVIN KLEIN On getting an assist tonight which was originally thought to be his goal…
Its all about getting wins and it’s not really my role (offense). I’m just trying to play strong defensively and that’s where my game stems from. Chipping in once in a while offensively is good but right now I’m just trying to stay defensive and take care of my own end first.
About getting a chance to get in the lineup…
I’m excited. I’ve been off for over a month without a game so its nice to step in and get a chance to play some regular minutes and they threw me right in the fire and I’m enjoying it.
PREDATORS FORWARD SCOTT NICHOL
On San Jose’s game…
We talked between the periods and its hard to get in on them. They move the puck from d to d and spread us out and came up the middle with their speed and their d would back off and we could never really sustain a good forecheck down low and grind them out.
On David Legwand getting injured…
Guys have got to step up. That’s why you have 23 guys on the roster and some guys go down. We’ve been very fortunate most of the year but we’ve kind of hit the injury bug here but I think most teams are dealing with that but good teams find a way to win and we’ll be fine.
PREDATORS HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ On the difference in the third period...
To me, we took a penalty, we weren’t getting pucks out, we weren’t real strong on the boards. We turned the puck over a few times on the boards. I didn’t think we got the goaltending we needed in the third period. Unfortunately, those things happen.
On the Predators inconsistency...
That’s something everyone can blame for every loss. Everybody has to contribute and that’s an area that has to be more consistent; power play has to be more consistent. We did a lot of good things in the first two periods against a very good team, a very talented team, and very deep team. In the second period, we had a breakaway, J.P. (Dumont) had a real good chance, Marty Erat had a real good redirect in front; one of those go in and we make it two or three quick ones and it’d be a different story, but took a penalty, they scored on the power-play and then they got one right at the end of the next penalty we took when we were on the power-play. It was definitely unnecessary.
On players contributing...
From out standpoint, all we ask is ‘just do your job; do it to your capabilities.’ There are areas of our game that guys aren’t playing up to their capabilities.
On Legwand’s injury...
(He was taken) to be evaluated for an upper body injury and torso area and he’s really day-to-day. It doesn’t look too serious, but he’ll be day-to-day.
On the shots in the game...
They’re the number two defensive team in the National Hockey League. They don’t allow you to get a lot of shots. We have to get some more, but our chances were fairly decent and I thought Nabokov played pretty well. The second period, we had a number of chances and he stood on his head. They’re a good team. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re deep, they have good goaltending and they are about 15-3-2 on the road in the National Hockey League. We played a good hockey team. They know how to win on the road and they did that tonight.
Goaltending, a lot of it is mental. You’ve got to have fun playing, you have to embrace the role, and there is an adjustment for goaltenders. Like there’s an adjustment for a lot of second year players. They are put in higher roles and all of the sudden things are a little more difficult, they don’t have the success. There’s no difference in net or anything like that. We have to give him more help, too. We need to be a little more flawless in the other parts of our game.
On helping Mason with screen-shots...
It’s a tough job to do, but boxing them out a bit. It’s a little bit of everybody. When you give up five goals, a lot of times when they go in, it’s something that happened 200 feet up the ice that’s caused the opportunity. We win or lose as a team, as an organization, it’s my fault, its every player in the room. If we don’t win a hockey game, we all share the blame. That’s how it works.
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