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Predators go head hunting again
4/13/07 - by Mike Lee

After an embarrassing 4-1 series loss to the Sharks last year, the Nashville Predators decided to bulk up in order to muscle up against teams like the Sharks. Nashville continued its attack by attrition strategy in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup, by knocking another Sharks player out of the game. After Jonathan Cheechoo was forced to leave Game 1 with a knee injury, Steve Bernier followed him to the infirmary on Friday night, the victim of a dirty check from behind.

The biggest difference between the cheap shots dolled out to Cheechoo and Bernier is that the Sharks capitalized in Game 1. It was deja vu all over again, except the Sharks failed to score on the 5-minute power play that followed the Nashville infraction.

The tactics also paid dividends for the Predators, who would go on to take a 5-2 decision to even up he series at a game apiece. Nashville punched the Sharks in the back of the head, then put the puck in the net.

Craig Rivet opened the game's scoring with his second of the series 4:37 into the game on a delayed penalty to Peter Forsberg. Rivet chipped a rebound past Tomas Vokoun after Patrick Marleau feathered a pass to the Sharks defenseman on a 2-on-1 break. Similar to Patrick Rissmiller's overtime winner in Game 1, Marleau gained the blueline, then fed the puck toward the net as Rivet skated in on goal.

The Predators would counter two minutes later on Alexander Radulov's 3rd goal of the series. Vern Fiddler outworked rookie defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlassic for the puck along the boards, before slipping a pass to Radulov in the slot. Scott Hannan had position on Radulov, but he failed to clear the puck or tie up the Nashville rookie.

Forsberg scored from a tough angle after Marek Zidlicky bounced a shot from the point off the end boards. The puck trickled past the goal line, where Vlasic was positioned to grab it, but Forsberg lifted the defenseman's stick, picking his pocket. Forsberg then whipped the puck toward the net from outside the left post, bouncing it off Evgeni Nabokov and into the Sharks goal.

The chippiness and gamesmanship continued through the period. Forsberg would get sent off for diving while drawing an interference call on Bill Guerin. The period would end with J.P. Dumont mimicking Forsberg's flop, then mixing it up with Christian Ehrhoff after failing to draw a call.

Things turned nasty early in the 2nd period when Radulov nailed Bernier from behind, bouncing the Shark forward's head off the glass. While Bernier lay motionless on the ice, the Sharks training staff motioned for a stretcher. Bernier would get up, but he had to be helped off the ice by Marcel Goc and Joe Thornton as the Nashville crowd booed Bernier.

Radulov would get tossed for checking from behind, giving the Sharks a 5-minute power play, as was the case in Game 1. Jordan Tootoo would serve the penalty for Radulov, who left the ice as the crowd chanted his name. Rather than make the Predators pay for Radulov's transgression, the Sharks shot themselves in the foot three different ways.

First Thornton missed a wide open net, then San Jose filed to convert on a 5-on-3 after Ryan Suter clothes-lined Ryane Clowe. The back breaker came after the 5-minute major ended, when Dumont skated up ice shorthanded and beat Nabokov with a wrister from 25-feet out.

Things went down hill from there when Clowe went after Paul Kariya after Marcel Goc was whistled for cross checking. Nashville had a full 2 minute 5-on-3 to exploit, and they cashed in with another Dumont goal. The Sharks had killed all but 4 seconds of the penalty before Dumont buried a wide open shot. The goal was Nashville's first power play goal of the series.

Clowe would pull the Sharks to within 2 goals midway through the 3rd period on a deflection after Cheechoo tried stuffing the puck home from behind the left post.

Forsberg would cap the scoring with an empty-net goal with a minute to play. The fireworks would start on the ensuing faceoff when Clowe tried to engage Game 1's head hunter Scott Hartnell. Hartnell refused to engage Clowe, but when Tootoo jumped into the mix, all hell broke loose. Mike Grier and Hartnell mixed it up, while Clowe tossed Tootoo around like a rag doll. Scott Hannan squared off with Jarred Smithson.

When the smoke cleared, 6 game misconduct penalties were handed out on top of an equal number of fighting majors.


Bernier was taken for x-rays on his neck and head, but there was no report available on his status after the game. Predators head coach Barry Trotz was shown chuckling on the bench while the Sharks training staff tended to Bernier.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 1 2
NSH 2 2 1 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Rivet 2 (Marleau, Carle), 4:37. 2, NSH, Radulov 3 (Fiddler), 6:54. 3, NSH, Forsberg 1 (Zidlicky, Radulov), 15:56.
2nd period - 4, NSH, Dumont 3 (Timonen), 10:26, (sh). 5, NSH, Dumont 4 (Zidlicky, Kariya), 12:56, (pp).
3rd period - 6, SJ, Clowe 1 (Cheechoo, Ehrhoff), 9:52. 7, NSH, Forsberg 2 (Legwand, Hanhuis), 18:55, (en).
1st period - Guerin, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 0:38; Fiddler, NSH (unsportsmanlike conduct), 0:38; Team, SJ (too many men), 1:41; Arnot, NSH (high sticking), 8:01; Clowe, SJ (boarding), 10:53; Hartnell, NSH (tripping), 11:28; Guerin, SJ (interference), 18:59; Rivet, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:59; Hartnell, NSH (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:59; Forsberg, NSH (diving), 18:59.
2nd period - Radulov, NSH (checking from behind - major), 4:44. Radulov, NSH (game misconduct), 4:44; Suter, NSH (roughing), 8:43; Goc, SJ (cross checking), 11:00; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 11:00; Forsberg, NSH (hooking), 14:34; Grier, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
3rd period - Guerin, SJ (hooking), 3:01; Clowe, SJ (tripping), 10:28; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 19:00; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 19:00; Hannan, SJ (fighting major), 19:00; Hannan, SJ (game misconduct), 19:00; Grier, SJ (fighting major), 19:00; Grier, SJ (game misconduct), 19:00; Hartnell, NSH (fighting major), 19:00; Hartnell, NSH (game misconduct), 19:00; Smithson, NSH (fighting major), 19:00; Smithson, NSH (game misconduct), 19:00; Tootoo, NSH (fighting major), 19:00; Tootoo, NSH (game misconduct), 19:00.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 21 17
SJ - empty net10
NSH - Vokoun 24 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 6 6 24
NSH 5 7 10 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
NSH 1 of 8
3 Stars of the Game
J.P. Dumont
Marek Zidlicky
Peter Forsberg
Referees: Dan Marouelli, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Brian Murphy.

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