The Nashville Predators will face a San Jose Shark team who will be desperate to regain their edge after dropping their two-game series lead.
San Jose is sitting in a seat that was similarly occupied by the Predators in the first round. After bouncing out to a 2-0 series lead, the Sharks have given up the next pair of games and now face a best-of-three series.
They will be rallying the troops in hopes of emulating Nashville’s first round success, aiming to regain their form and secure a pair of victories- with two of the possible three remaining games slated to be played in San Jose, where they have yet to lose in the series.
The Sharks may be boiling with some extra motivation moving into Game Five, undoubtedly feeling that they were robbed of a commanding 3-1 series lead after a Joe Pavelski overtime goal was waved by an official. The play, viewable below, was disallowed via goaltender interference.
The San Jose franchise has developed a reputation for toting a high-powered offense over the years, and this postseason has proven no different. Three players, Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture are all top 10 playoff point scorers and have all proven to be threatening figures demanding the Predators attention.
But the Sharks also shoulder a reputation which they wish desperately to buck- the reputation of the playoff flounder. Despite a number of Division Championships and star power players donning teal over the years, the franchise has never achieved a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in their 23 years of existence.
Three times San Jose has advanced to the Conference Finals, and three times they have been turned away, facing 4-2, 4-1, and 4-0 series defeats. Without doubt the sagging postseason history of the franchise is looming somewhere in the minds of the players, with each of these teams battling to tread where no roster in their respective franchise histories have been before.
The second round matchup has showcased hotly contested play, with the bounce of the puck playing a primary role and a pace which leaves the cameramen reeling- and the Predators can rest assured that the Sharks will bring the house in their home Saturday night. They have no desire to be eliminated by a team who has never seen beyond the second round- and they will not easily relinquish that pass.
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San Jose has a platform upon which to build some confidence- they controlled most of the play through three overtimes in Game Four before having their fins deflated by Mike Fisher. Their primary issue as to why they couldn’t seal the deal? An inability to get the puck through Pekka Rinne (without, of course, removing him entirely from net). And that’s the sort of play that builds frustration which can either invigorate or crumble a team.
The Nashville Predators will have to earn their way to the Conference Finals, and they will have to win a game in San Jose. Smashville would love to see the momentum of a brilliant triple overtime win carry the team to victory in Game Five Saturday night, tilting the pressure fully onto a scrambling Shark team with a history of sinking.
One more win by the Predators would mark the closest the franchise has ever been to hoisting Championship hardware- but there’s little doubt that nobody in Smashville will be satisfied with just one more win.