San Jose scored twice in a 2:33 span late in the first period and added another two goals 3:29 apart in the middle of the second period en route to a 4-1 win over the Predators on Monday night at Sommet Center.
The game was a physical, chippy contest with a steady parade of penalties. The referees whistled 15 minor penalties and eight fighting majors combined between the two teams, including a spirited third period tilt between 5’9 Scott Nichol and 6’4 Joe Thornton. The Nichol/Thornton bout was followed fights on consecutive faceoffs, Jordin Tootoo and Brad Staubitz squaring off on the next faceoff, with Greg de Vries and Jody Shelley one faceoff later, both re-matches of second period tussels. In the second period gathering, Tootoo dropped Staubitz with a quick shot, prompting the rematch request in the third period, which was more evenly matched but ended the same way, with Tootoo registering a knock down. De Vries and Shelley split their two go-arounds, de Vries earning the first decision.
The Predators killed off two early Sharks power-plays, but San Jose cashed in on their third man-advantage at the 14:38 mark of the opening frame. Dan Ellis made a tremendous lunging save to rob Devin Setoguchi and cover the rebound. However, the Sharks won the ensuing faceoff and seconds later Thornton made a snap pass from behind the net to Setoguchi at the inside corner of the right wing faceoff circle. Setoguchi quickly snapped a shot before Ellis was able to square up to the shooter, Setoguchi’s 11th goal of the season.
Shelley added his first goal of the season 2:33 later popping in a rebound off a scrum in front of the net.
Tomas Plihal and Patrick Marleau added second period goals at the 7:43 and 11:12 marks to push the score to 4-0, Plihal's second of the season and Marleau's ninth.
David Legwand countered with a shorthanded goal midway through the third period, his third of the season. Dan Hamhuis sprung Legwand on a breakaway with a long outlet pass. Legwand was hooked from behind on his initial shot, but he continued with the play and jammed home the rebound. Radek Bonk picked up the other assist on the play.
Rich Peverley had a partial breakaway on the next shift, but Boucher made the pad save and held on to the rebound. Nashville continued to play hard, creating several other quality scoring chances over the game’s final 10 minutes -- out-shooting the Sharks 16-8 in the third period and 33-32 for the game -- but were unable to draw closer.
Preds captain Jason Arnott was taken off the ice following a late first period collision. He was released from the hospital and returned to the arena before the end of the game (click here for more) ... The Predators have scored 4 shorthanded goals on the season, including 3 in the past 6 games. Each of the shorthanded has been scored by a different player (Fiddler, Legwand, Ward, & Weber).
Post-Game Quotes: Head Coach Barry Trotz On the team’s continued physical approach in the 3rd period…
“I liked the fact that we weren’t going to back down. Our team had all the reason to go away quietly and they didn’t want to do that. I give them a little bit of credit for that. That shows a lot of pride in the room. We took too many penalties in the first two periods and that really took a lot of steam out of our bench. And coming out for the 3rd with four goals there’s all the reason to take the easy way out and have an easy game. Our guys didn’t want to do that, there was a lot of pride in the room. I think they found a lot about themselves out in California and said ‘hey, we’re not going away lightly – that’s not how the Predators do it.’ We felt we got clipped a few times, a few questionable shots that they didn’t get called so guys were irritated.”
On the play that injured Arnott…
“It’s really a bang-bang play. Arnott was driving the net and coming at a 45-degree angle and one of the defensemen was going at a straight line and right when he was reaching there was contact. He grabbed his arm and tried to push him and spin him away at the same time – the momentum and getting thrown off balance heading into the net like that, Arnott went head-first into the net and there was a lot of impact there.”
Update on Arnott…
“He’s going to be fine. He was released from the hospital, came back and changed, and he’s at home right now. I don’t see any problem in him not being ready for Tampa Bay. He may be questionable tomorrow for practice with soreness, but I expect him to be ready for Tampa Bay.”
Goaltender Dan Ellis On the injury to Arnott…
“When one of your brothers goes down—especially your captain, your leader—it is a shot in the heart for the team. We started to play a bit better after he was out. But our hearts and prayers go out to him and you just hope he has a quick and safe recovery.”
On if Arnott’s injury was a distraction…
“You have to learn to be able to put it away but I do think it is a bit of a distraction. When one of your teammates, one of the guys you really care about, is carried off on a stretcher, that hits home for any guy. As a brother and as a teammate that is hard to see. I don’t know if it had anything to do with it or not but we played hard in the third and for most of the second but we didn’t come out on top.”
On the play of San Jose…
“They looked a lot better the last time we played them but they are still a great team. They’ve got everything. They’ve got scorers, great defensemen, a great goalie that is injured right now, but Boucher is playing well for them. They have a great system and they are very well coached. They are going to be a team to beat come playoff time and we had a good look at them.”
Forward J.P. Dumont On staying focused despite all the penalty calls…
“We have to make sure that when the call a penalty on us—even if we think it is not the right call—we don’t know because we can’t see everything on the ice. We don’t know if it was the right call or not but we have to make sure stay focused and keep playing.”
On the team not backing down…
“I have known this since I got here a few years ago. This team will never back down from anyone or any team and we proved it again tonight. de Vries went against Shelley and he didn’t back down—he even went twice. That’s the kind of team we are and that’s the kind of player he is. I give him a lot of credit. Everyone tonight was on the same page.”
Forward Scott Nichol On all the relationship between the two teams…
“We just bottom line don’t like them. We’ve played them a lot and it’s left a bitter taste. They are a good team and at the top of the league and that just makes you want it more.”
On the amount of fighting in tonight’s game…
“I think it was perfect. I think we could have had a few more. That’s just the way it is. When you grind it out and battle for every inch of the ice, sometimes the inch isn’t there and you want to go through the guy. It’s just the way hockey is. It is a very physical sport and sometimes that happens.”
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Greg De Vries