The Nashville Predators knew this series wouldn’t be easy and last night confirmed it.
The Predators lost to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 5-2 which isn’t indicative of how close the game and these two teams are. The Nashville Predators club actually was leading 1-0 going into the third period before they succumbed to the Sharks waves of offense.
It may sound hard to believe but the Sharks could have scored five goals long before their two empty-netter at the end of the game. Pekka Rinne played spectacularly in goal early on and kept San Jose out of the net. His defense did a great job of clearing any rebounds and the Sharks off the scoreboard.
The game started off in a weird manner with a black cat skittering across the ice pre-game that got more mentions on Twitter than the fact that Craig Smith wasn’t on the ice before the game. The cat went in front of the Predators bench and may have sent a little “voodoo” their way.
Early in the first period, there was a crazy goal review when the Sharks didn’t put the puck in the net, but it was knocked off it’s moorings so the referees looked to see if they had scored a “virtual” goal. It was ruled no goal but like we said, it was a weird night.
Here is a video recap for you, black cat included:
The Preds Looked Tired – Early on in the game, the Nashville Predators may have looked like the better team. The stats were even but they looked a little quicker and a little better defensively than the Sharks. In the third period, the well-rested Sharks looked like the faster, better team especially offensively, bringing wave after wave of attacks on Rinne.
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They Miss Craig Smith – The Preds brought up Pontus Aberg yesterday which we wrote about here. Smith didn’t attend the morning skate but everyone was still surprised when he wasn’t in the lineup. Eric Nystrom ended up subbing in for him and there is a huge drop off in offense there. The Predators haven’t won a playoff game this year without Smith in the lineup and his speed and scoring are sorely missed.
It’s a Different Game Against the Sharks – Anaheim played very physical and much more defensive than the Sharks did last night. The Sharks ramped up as the game went on, shaking off the rust and really brought a speedy, talented offensive attack. Most of the play in the third was in the Preds zone and they had no answer
Special Teams Weren’t Special – After limiting the Ducks top-ranked power play in the first series, the Preds gave up two goals in three opportunities to the Sharks. The Preds did score a Mike Fisher power play goal in two chances but they can’t let San Jose score with the man advantage.
Reasons for Optimism – The Preds led into the third period and played even or better until they looked worn down in the third. They scored a goal after pulling Rinne with 1:49 left to make it 3-2 but gave up two empty-net goals. Rinne actually had a .917 save percentage but the Preds just gave up too many shots and chances late. This game was a lot closer than it looked.
Predators Sent a Message – At the end of the game, after the final whistle, the fourth line which apparently had been sent out to “send a message”, did just that. There were several skirmishes and Colton Sissons and Barret Jackman received multiple penalties. Paul Gaustad was also well involved. None of the penalties will affect the next game penalty-wise but the Sharks know the Nashville Predators will be showing up to play.
The Preds will rest a bit and Coach Laviolette will come up with some changes to help. Hopefully, Craig Smith’s lower body injury will get some of it’s own voodoo and he will be back. This series is a long way from being over.