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Hat trick Patrick propels SJ
Sharks need all 5 goals to beat Preds
4/27/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks learned a very valuable playoff lesson on Thursday night. Coasting with a three goal lead, San Jose let its guard down against cornered animal in the Nashville Predators. That three goal lead turned into a one goal lead with 4:22 to play and the momentum of an offensive fireworks display by Patrick Marleau turned in favor of the Predators. Vesa Toskala weathered the storm with several key saves down the stretch to help preserve a 5-4 San Jose win, but the message was clear. Nashville will not go quietly, even though the Sharks hold a commending 3-1 lead in the series.

Marleau recorded his third career playoff hat trick to lead the offensive spectacle, but goals by Mike Sillinger and Scott Hartnell with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation turned a festive evening into a nail biter.

San Jose used a pair of Marleau goals and a Mark Smith tally in the 2nd period to take control of a tight game through the first 30 minutes of the contest.

Trailing 2-1 on goals by Paul Kariya and Shea Weber, Marleau scored the first of his three goals at 7:01 of the 2nd period on a redirect after Christian Ehrhoff rifled a shot on net from the Sharks blueline while the Sharks were on the power play.

Nashville found itself in penalty trouble four minutes later when David Legwand was whistled for holding and Brendan Witt took a weak tripping penalty 46 seconds apart. Joe Thornton would setup Marleau with his second power play goal of the evening with a pass that Marleau easily chipped in for a 3-2 San Jose lead.

Mark Smith would capitalize less than a minute and a half later, by pumping home a one timer from the bottom of the right circle.

Marleau would hook up with linemate Steve Bernier to bag the hat trick four minutes into the final period after Kyle McLaren started the play with a monster hit to jar the puck loose from the Predators.

Bernier scooped up the loose puck, then raced up ice with Marleau shadowing him up the slot. Weber tried to check Bernier off the puck, but the rookie winger slid a pass over to Marleau who was cutting past defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Marleau redirected Bernier's pass past Predators goaltender Chris Mason for what would eventually turn out to be the game winner.

As hats rained down on the HP Pavilion ice, the crowd erupted in celebration for what the thought was a blowout. It took several minutes to clear the ice, which may have provided Nashville with an opportunity to regroup and put a plan of attack together for the remaining 5 minutes of regulation.

Sillinger would start the comeback by tipping a shot by Kariya past Toskala at the 10:47 mark, and Hartnell would follow five minutes later with his first goal of the series.

Predators head coach Barry Trotz pulled Mason with a minute to play, and Nashville went to work. They generated the shots on goal, but couldn't net the equalizer as time expired.

Trotz sounded like a man who had figured out one of the world's great mysteries after the game. "We know how to break down their strengths now," Trotz said. "We just have to match them on special teams. Special teams were the difference. We're just going to get better as this series goes on. We've found out how to beat this team."

Kariya perspective may have been more down to earth.

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1 2 3 T
NAS 1 1 2 4
SJ 1 3 1 5
1st period - 1, San Jose, Rissmiller 1 (Carle, Goc), 7:03. 2, Nashville, Kariya 1 (Erat, Timonen), 8:55, (pp).
2nd period - 3, Nashville, Weber 2 (Sullivan, Legwand), 5:45. 4, San Jose, Marleau 4 (Ehrhoff, J.Thornton), 7:01, (pp). 5, San Jose, Marleau 5 (J.Thornton, Preissing), 11:30, (pp). 6, San Jose, Smith 3 (Bernier, Carle), 12:56.
3rd period - 7, San Jose, Marleau 6 (Bernier, McLaren), 4:13. 8, Nashville, Sillinger 2 (Kariya), 10:47. 9, Nashville, Hartnell 1 (Hamhuis, Fiddler), 15:38.
1st period - McCauley, SJS (tripping), 2:14; Ehrhoff, SJS (interference), 7:45; Eaton, NAS (hooking), 12:42; Walker, NAS (interference), 18:29; Bernier, SJS double minor (high-sticking), 19:34.
2nd period - Weber, NAS (interference), 6:31; Legwand, NAS (holding), 10:08; Witt, NAS (tripping), 10:54; Michalek, SJS (hooking), 16:06; Erat, NAS (roughing), 18:13.
3rd period - Marleau, SJS (holding), 1:34; Hannan, SJS (hooking), 12:47; Erat, NAS (holding), 13:21; Sillinger, NAS, misconduct, 20:00.
  Shots Saves
NAS - Mason 24 19
SJ - Toskala 30 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NAS 9 7 14 30
SJ 12 9 3 24
Power Play Conversion
NAS 1 of 7
SJ 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Christian Ehrhoff
Joe Thornton
Referees: Kevin Pollock, Rob Shick. Linesmen: Dan Schachte, Mark Wheler.

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