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Sharks close out Preds
S.J. wins series 4-1
4/30/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks just may have learned something from their playoff run two years ago. Back in 2004, San Jose failed to put away the Colorado Avalanche after taking a 3-0 lead in that Western Conference semi-final series, and it came back to haunt them in the Conference Finals because it took them three games to finish off the Avalanche. They didn't waste the chance to put away the Nashville Predators on Sunday, sealing the series with a 2-1 win at Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.

It wasn't a cake walk for the Sharks, but they clamped down in the end to take the final four games in the series after the Predators won Game 1 last week. A couple of ill advised penalties by the Sharks late in the game turned a 2-0 lead into a heart stopping finish that ended with a deflection that Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala stopped with a kick save that may have preserved the win for the Sharks.

Backed into a corner, Nashville pulled goaltender Chris Mason with 1:30 to play then threw everything they had at the Sharks in order to keep the series alive. Mark Smith almost put the game away by stealing the puck in the Nashville zone with just under a minute play, but he was forced to take a shot from a bad angle. The shot rang off the crossbar and setup the wild finish at the other end of the rink.

Kimo Timonen tried to get the equalizer with a poor choice of shots from 60 feet out, then Mike Sillinger came within a skate blade of knotting the game at 2-2 when his shot from the slot his a teammates skate in from of the crease then redirected toward Toskala. The Sharks netminder threw his left pad out in time to stave off the would-be equalizer and the Sharks cleared the puck as time expired.

The wild finish may not have necessary had Tom Preissing not taken a high sticking penalty earlier in the period. After catching Paul Kariya with his stick blade, the Predators had the advantage they needed to get back into the game.

Kariya would convert less than a minute into the ensuing power play. Nashville moved the puck well for the first time since their 5-4 series opening win when they scored four power play goals. Kariya would convert on a pass from Steve Sullivan that slid across the slot from left to right. Kariya stuffed home the puck into a wide open net to pull the game to within a single goal.

A Christian Ehrhoff holding penalty three minutes later was suppressed by the Sharks, but it was a situation the Sharks would have preferred to avoid. Marek Zidlicky almost tied the game on a point blank shot from the slot that sailed over Toskala's head.

The Sharks went into the prevent mode in the final period after taking a 2-0 lead into the final intermission.

The Sharks had opened the game's scoring at the 19:59.6 mark on a power play goal that was credited to Steve Bernier, but in actuality should have been given to Milan Michalek. With Brendan Witt in the penalty box for slashing, Michalek fired a shot that beat Mason with four tenths of a second left in the period. A lengthy video review, clearly showed to the puck hitting the back of the net with time still on the clock. The chats of "no goal, no goal" were muted as players filed into the dressing rooms at the first intermission once the ruling was announced over the public address system.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau teamed up for the game winner at 13:24 of the 2nd period after Martin Erat took a boneheaded roughing penalty. McLaren knocked Kariya off the puck with what could have gone for an elbowing penalty, as Kariya tried gaining the Sharks zone. Erat tried to retaliate with a couple of shot to McLaren's head, but rather than avenge the McLaren hit, he put his team into a tough position by getting sent to the box.

Thornton would setup the goal after the Sharks setup in the Nashville zone moments later. Thornton took a pass fro Marleau, before circling near the bottom of the right circle. Spotting Thornton on the left post, Thornton sent a pass through the crease from right to left, hitting Marleau on the tape. The puck took a 90 degree right turn off Marleau's stick, a headed straight into the goal for the 2-0 lead.

By finishing the Predators off, San Jose won't have to jump into the next series right away as they did against Calgary in the 2004 Conference Finals.


Center Alyn McCauley was a scratch, because of his leg injury. Grant Stevenson replaced McCauley on the Patrick Rissmiller - Marcel Goc line. Stevenson was limited to 2:50 of ice time on five shifts. His limited action may have been a result of his hooking penalty midway through the 1st period. Predators center Yanic Perreault played for the first time in the series, winning 6 of 10 faceoffs.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
NAS 0 0 1 1
1st period - 1, San Jose, Bernier 2 (Michalek, Hannan), 19:59, (pp).
2nd period - 2, San Jose, Marleau 7 (J.Thornton, Preissing), 13:24, (pp).
3rd period - 3, Nashville, Kariya 2 (Sullivan, Zidlicky), 11:06, (pp).
1st period - Ehrhoff, SJS (cross-checking), 5:27; Stevenson, SJS (hooking), 13:26; Perreault, NAS (tripping), 14:28; Markov, NAS (hooking), 16:13; Witt, NAS (slashing), 18:22.
2nd period - Bernier, SJS (interference), 3:14; Erat, NAS (roughing), 12:38.
3rd period - Zidlicky, NAS (tripping), 3:26; Preissing, SJS (high-sticking), 10:19; Ehrhoff, SJS (holding), 14:01.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 35 34
NAS - Mason 36 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 18 7 36
NAS 10 15 10 35
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 5
NAS 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Vesa Toskala
Patrick Marleau
Scott Hannan
Referees: Mike Hasenfratz, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Greg Devorski.

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