By Amanda DiPaolo
On Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators hosted the San Jose Sharks in a battle for increasingly important points in the tight Western Conference. The first two times these teams met up this season each game was decided by a single goal. Tuesday would be no different as the Sharks edged Nashville 2-1 in overtime.
The Predators showed in the first half of the opening frame that they were there to take the points. Less than 4 minutes into the game the Mike Fisher line had several scoring chances. Douglas Murray blocked a shot. Weber, Fisher and Erat all put shots on Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. By the four minute mark, shots on goal favored Nashville 5-0.
The Sharks leading scorer and potential rookie of the year, Logan Couture, was called for high sticking at 5:30 of the first period. During the power play Cody Franson found the back of the net when he shot from the circle on the blocker side of Niemi. Nashville has now scored a power play goal in 6 of their last 7 games.
Franson has now scored in back to back games. It was the defenseman’s eighth goal of the season. Steve Sullivan and David Legwand picked up the assists.
“We came out hard. We just didn’t keep our foot on the gas for the full 60 minutes. It gave them momentum a little bit and it bit us,” Franson said of the Predators play, “We didn’t bury on some of our chances and we didn’t play as maybe strong as we wanted to but I don’t think it was an effort where we felt we didn’t deserve a point. I think a couple bounces here and there and it is a totally different game.”
The Predators ended the period in much the same way it started it, with lots of opportunity to pull out in front. With just 42.6 seconds left in the period, Sergei Kostitsyn sent a puck across the crease to Marty Erat who had an open net to tap the puck into. Erat hit the post.
In the second period, Nashville had an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead when Legwand sent a stretch pass to Sullivan who broke into the Sharks’ zone all alone but was unable to beat Niemi.
Less than two minutes after Sullivan’s breakaway, Devin Setoguchi scored to tie things up at 1-1 with 10:47 left to play in the middle frame. Setoguchi’s 12th goal of the season came off a bad angled shot over the blocker of Rinne. Kent Huskins picked up the assist on the play.
“Overall it was a good road game for us,” Setoguchi said, “With such a well organized, hard working hockey team, it is tough to create space and get your chances. I thought we did a good job buckling down in the third and still creating chances without giving up many.”
There was no scoring in the third period. Nashville was outshot 12-0 before registering their first shot on goal at the 10 minute mark.
After regulation, the shots on goal were 45-31 in favor of the Sharks.
During the 5 minute overtime frame Kevin Klein left the ice hunched over, favoring his arm.
With 1:07 left in overtime, Patrick Marleau was sent in behind the defense all alone on Pekka Rinne and scored the overtime game winning goal, stick side of Nashville goaltender, who faced 5 shots in the overtime period for a total of 50 on the night.
With the overtime loss, Nashville and San Jose are now tied with Anaheim and Dallas all with 68 points on the season, seeds four through seven in the Western Conference.
Nashville plays again Thursday night when they host the number one team in the entire NHL, the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available.
Additional Game Notes:
JP Dumont was a healthy scratch for the Predators.
Barry Trotz decided to keep Mike Fisher centering Marty Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn, even with the return of Marcel Goc to the lineup.
Goc centered Joel Ward and Colin Wilson.
David Legwand centered Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist.
Nick Spaling centered the fourth line which included Jerred Smithson and Marek Svatos, who, like Goc, returned from injury Tuesday night.
Svatos only saw 4:31 of ice time on Tuesday night.
— Photo credit: Getty Images
Follow Predlines on Twitter @Predlines