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Sharks open playoffs ugly
Penalty kill is murderous
4/21/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks opened the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs with an ugly performance, and even uglier loss at the hands of the Nashville Predators on Friday night in Tennessee. The Predators converted on 4 of 7 power play chances, including three in the 1st period to take game 1 of their Western Conference matchup. Paul Kariya recorded assists on all four Nashville goals, including the game winner, which he setup with a blast from the right circle.

The Sharks get a day to ponder what might have been, had they controlled things on the penalty kill. San Jose goaltender Vesa Toskala never even saw the first two goals flash by him, because the Predators threw a constant stream of interference in front of the net.

That was something the Sharks failed to do, allowing Nashville Chris Mason to win his first career playoff start. Mason didn't play a remarkable game, but he made all the simple plays. The Sharks had little chance to jump on him early, because every time they were sent off in the opening period, Mason's teammates would convert.

After Mark Smith gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead, Mike Sillinger, Martin Erat and Shea Weber ripped of three goals in succession. Weber's was a back breaker, because he scored it less than four seconds remaining in the period. Nashville forced the issue by pressing on the forecheck in the Sharks zone, causing a turnover deep in the zone. Kariya found the puck and sent a pass across the slot to an undefended Weber in front of the Sharks goal.

Sillinger's goal was reviewed for several minutes because replays showed that he knocked a Kimo Timonen shot down with a high stick in front of Toskala. Surprisingly, replay officials allowed the goal to stand.

The Sharks battled back from the 3-1 deficit with goals by Nils Ekman and Scott Thornton. Ekman scored on a 2n period power play chance in close. After feeding the puck to Joe Thornton, Ekman slid himself down low with his back to Thornton who was stationed on the outer perimeter of the right circle. Thornton sent a pass that Ekman stopped on the backhand, before firing a shot past Mason

Scott Thornton tied the game midway through the 3rd period on a redirect in front of Mason. Ville Nieminen gained the puck along the right wing boards, then sent a cross-ice pass the Thornton, who was cutting in on the left post.

All the momentum the Sharks had re-established was quickly eliminated when the team was whistled for having too many men on the ice. Kariya decided things on the ensuing power play with a shot that deflected off Adam Hall's pant leg and into the Sharks goal.

The Sharks tried to mount an offensive late in the game, but Mason turned aside several shots. The Predators goalie flailed his arms wildly after the final horn sounded.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
NAS 3 0 1 4
1st period - 1, San Jose, Smith 1 (Goc, Carle), 4:12. 2, Nashville, Sillinger 1 (Timonen, Kariya), 8:57, (pp). 3, Nashville, Erat 1 (Kariya, Hamhuis), 10:56, (pp). 4, Nashville, Weber 1 (Kariya, Sillinger), 19:56, (pp).
2nd period - 5, San Jose, Ekman 1 (J.Thornton, Preissing), 8:50, (pp).
3rd period - 6, San Jose, S.Thornton 1 (Nieminen, McCauley), 10:31. 7, Nashville, Hall 1 (Kariya, Timonen), 12:06, (pp).
1st period - Witt, NAS (holding), 0:56; Ehrhoff, SJS (interference), 8:30; Cheechoo, SJS (interference), 9:31; Witt, NAS (roughing), 12:25; Ekman, SJS (hooking), 19:44.
2nd period - Michalek, SJS (goalie interference), 4:29; Hartnell, NAS (tripping), 7:29; Nieminen, SJS (holding), 10:58; Nieminen, SJS (goalie interference), 16:18; Walker, NAS (roughing), 16:18.
3rd period - Weber, NAS (holding), 3:44; Nieminen, SJS (high-sticking), 6:41; Markov, NAS (tripping), 7:40; Bench, SJS served by Rissmiller (too many men), 11:32; Timonen, NAS (holding), 14:00.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 30 26
NAS - Mason 34 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 10 16 34
NAS 14 8 8 30
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 6
NAS 4 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Paul Kariya
Mike Sillinger
Chris Mason
Referees: Marc Joannette, Dean Warren. Linesmen: Vaughan Rody, Jay Sharrers.

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