By Amanda DiPaolo
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After their morning skate, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said the key to beating Nashville was winning the race to three goals. When Nashville scores three or more goals they have been nearly unbeatable.
McLellan was right. Despite the Predators 2 power play goals, Nashville lost 3-2 in overtime. Patrick Marleau scored his second overtime goal against the Predators this season.
Head Coach Barry Trotz said the reason why the Predators got a point was because of the power play and goaltending. But it wasn’t enough.
It was the Sharks who got on the board first. At 8:17 into the first period Ryan Clowe picked up his 19th goal of the season when he beat Rinne on the stick side right in front of the Finnish netminder. Just 7 seconds earlier, Rinne had made what looked like an impossible save on Dany Heatley when Heatley was left all alone in front of Rinne in the slot, a spot where he scores so many of his goals.
Heatley and Jason Demers picked up assists on the goal.
Nashville tied it up when they got their second power play opportunity of the first period. Clowe was called for holding Joel Ward — then Ward proceeded to score on the man advantage. It was Ward’s 8th goal of the year.
Martin Erat and Shea Weber picked up the assists. Erat passed the puck to Ward at the side of the goal. Ward skated out in front of the net and took the shot, beating Niemi with a scramble in front.
Ward described first drawing the penalty and then scoring on the resulting power play. “I was trying to read a play down low and they gave me a hook. On the goal, I was just fortunate to get open for Marty there. I was thinking about going back door but then all of a sudden I saw it and took my chances going in front of the net and fortunately I got a goal.”
San Jose almost took the lead with just under 30 seconds left in the period. Clowe caused a turnover right in front of Rinne and was all alone in front of Nashville’s goal, but Rinne made the save.
Both the Sharks and Predators exchanged power play goals by the midway mark of the second period.
Justin Braun picked up his second goal of the season at 4:17 of the middle frame when he took a cross-ice pass from Heatley and blasted the puck past Rinne. Clowe picked up the other assist on the goal.
Shane O’Brien was in the box for hooking Cory Mitchell.
But Nashville tied things up less than two minutes later when Shea Weber picked up his 14th goal of the season. The Sharks were called for too many men on the ice. Lewand drew Niemi to him, made a sharp cross-crease pass to a diving Weber who put the puck in the empty net at 6:08 into the middle frame. Erat picked up the other assist.
Devin Setoguchi was serving the penalty.
Nashville turned over the puck 17 times to the Sharks. Head Coach Barry Trotz explained. “I didn’t think our wingers did a really good job for us. We weren’t really firm in the slot area. They jumped on a lot of loose pucks in that area. We didn’t seal it very well. They kept things alive.”
The third period was scoreless but the Sharks controlled most of the play, outshooting Nashville 13-4 in the final frame. The Predators did, however, have an excellent opportunity to end the game with under 2 minutes left in regulation when Douglas Murray tried to clear the puck from behind the net, but it was intercepted by Colin Wilson who sent the puck straight to the stick of Mike Fisher all alone in the slot.
Fisher shot right on goal and Niemi was able to smother the puck.
As the clock was winding down the Predators were trying to just maintain control of the puck to send the game to overtime. As the fans booed the Predators efforts, Weber shot the puck down the length of the rink and was called for icing with 4.2 seconds remaining on the clock.
McLellan called a timeout to create a plan of attack. The Sharks won the faceoff but were unable to get generate a scoring opportunity before the buzzer sounded.
The Predators had two shots on goal during the overtime period, but the Sharks had three and it was that final shot by Marleau that ended the game with only 1:36 left in the overtime period.
Coach McLellan said Marleau always seems to come up big. “That’s what Patty does. I think he is leading us in goals now and he scored some big ones down the stretch. He comes to play every night”, he said, adding, “I’ve seen him skate but that seems to be an extra gear tonight. If there wasn’t any end boards he may still be going.”
With so many games ending in three points, the Predators frustration with losing is understandable. “We want to win games and we want two points. We’ll take [the point] but we aren’t satisfied. That’s for sure,” Ward said.
The Predators now return home for 9 of the next 10 games. Of Nashville’s remaining 15 games, only 3 are on the road — including the last game of the season in St. Louis on April 9th.
Additional game notes:
Kevin Klein took a shot off the foot and didn’t finish the third period. Trotz had no update immediately following the game.
Blake Geoffrion was the healthy scratch for Nashville
JP Dumont has 17 points against the Sharks in 25 career games, including 11 goals and 6 assists. The only player who played on Tuesday night with more points against San Jose was David Legwand who had 18 points in 35 games, including 4 goals and 14 assists. Dumont played 6:43 Tuesday night, gave up the puck to the Sharks once and did not register a shot on goal.
With only 15 games left in the regular season, the Predators have yet to score an overtime goal.
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