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Gritty comeback in Nashville
Sharks overcome three deficits to take 2nd road win
2/6/10 - By Mike Lee -

If the Sharks hope to go deep into the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’re going to need some gritty performances to get the job done. Chalk up Saturday night’s 4-3 win in Nashville as a prime example of how grit on the road can lead to reward. The Sharks overcame three deficits against a determined Nashville Predator lineup to take two points from their hosts at the Sommet Center . Dany Heatley scored a power play goal with 8 minutes to play, capping the hard nosed comeback.

Unlike Thursday night’s win in St Louis , the opposition would strike first and early. J.P. Dumont staked the Predators to the 1-0 lead just 99 seconds into the contest. Martin Erat tried jamming a shot past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov from the doorstep, but a poke check kicked the puck out into the slot. Dumont gathered the puck with his skate, then swept home his 10th goal of the season.

Jody Shelley would take a stab at waking up his teammates by dropping the gloves with Wade Belak in a lengthy bout. The wakeup call would work. San Jose would tie the game off the ensuing faceoff, when Brad Staubitz chipped home his 3rd goal of the season. After Joe Pavelski won the faceoff, Torrey Mitchell skated down the puck, sliding a pass Keny Huskins on the left point. Huskins put a long shot on goal that Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne knocked down. Rinne tried to pounce on the rebound, but Staubitz beat him to it with a stab of his stick.

Nashville would go back on top in the 2nd period after Staubitz was sent off for boarding with a hit on Jordan Tootoo. Dumont would score his second goal of the game with a second left on Staubitz’s penalty, one timing a Cal O’Reilly feed. Dumont setup in the slot, then pumped home O’Reilly’s feed from the left wing boards.

The Sharks would shoot themselves in the foot midway through the 2nd period, on what appeared to be a go-ahead goal. Three Sharks found themselves on an odd-man rush and ended the break with a shot that found its way past Rinne, but defenseman Jay Leach would take a roughing penalty in the Sharks zone, nullifying the goal.

Shelley and Belak would drop the gloves for the second time at the same time, the Sharks found themselves back on the penalty kill because of the Leach infraction.

The Predators would go back on the power play, but Nabokov prevented any further damage with what was arguably the save of the game. Shea Webber threw a puck on net during the power play, hitting Jason Arnott just outside the right post. Arnott, redirected the puck to Patric Hornqvist on the off post, but Hornqvist deftly sent the puck right back to Arnott after Nabokov cut off the left side of the net. Arnott had Nabokov beat, but the Sharks netminder stabbed at the shot with his left leg, denying the sure goal.

San Jose went on the power play after Joel Ward took a hooking penalty at 13:49. Heatley would convert with a 40-foot shot from the high slot that slipped inside the left post. Rinne was partially screened by Patrick Marleau who was cutting across the slot.

Ward would atone for his mistake just over two minutes later. Both Dan Boyle and Kent Huskins pinched in from their defensive positions with the puck cycling in the Nashville zone. Joe Thornton tried gathering pass near the right dot, but the puck kicked out to the neutral zone. Ward had a jump on three Shark players and out-skated them to the puck before beating Nabokov with the breakaway goal.

With the second intermission looming, the Sharks turned the whole game around with their third game-tying goal of the game. Patrick Marleau tried putting a shot on goal from the right side with just under 30 seconds left in the period. The shot deflected off the end boards, floating outside the left post. Flying in from the left wing, Heatley swatted at the loose puck, putting a shot on a diving Rinne. The Predators netminder made the save on Heatley’s shot, but the puck kicked out to the top of the crease where defenseman Rob Blake poked it home with 23.5 seconds left.

That goal was huge, because without it, the Sharks would start the third period trailing. Rather than working to get the equalizer, San Jose could focus on scoring the go-ahead goal.

They would get that goal after Dan Hamhuis was set off for boarding at 11:32 of the final period. Once again Marleau and Heatley were involved in the scoring. After taking a pass from Thornton behind the Predators net, Marleau skated toward the crease from the right side. Heatley parked himself on the top of the crease, and redirected a Marleau pass as two defenders left him to try and cut off the threat from behind the net.

The Predators would pull Rinne for the extra attacker, and just like that things got busy in front of Nabokov. The netminder was up to the task, denying Ward and Arnott with point blank chances to seal the Sharks 38th win of the season.

Game Notes:

Boyle returned to the lineup for the first time since January 19th. Boyle missed six games with an undisclosed upper body injury.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 1 4
NSH 1 2 0 3
1st period - 1, NSH, Dumont 10 (Erat, O’Reilly), 1:39. 2, SJ, Staubitz 3 (Huskins, Mitchell), 2:12.
2nd period - 3, NSH, Dumont 11 (O;Reilly, Suter), 8:47, (pp). 4, SJ, Heatley 31 (Setoguchi, Thornton), 14:57, (pp). 5, NSH, Ward 11 (O’Reilly), 17:35. 6, SJ, Blake 5 (Heatley, Marleau), 19:36.
3rd period - 7, SJ, Heatley 32 (Marleau, Thornton), 11:57, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Shelley, SJ (fighting major), 2:04; Belak, NSH (fighting major), 2:04; Sulzer, NSH (delay of game – puck over glass), 4:32; Arnott, NSH (hooking), 6:52; Heatley, SJ (goaltender interference), 12:08.
2nd period - Staubitz, SJ (boarding), 6:48; Leach, SJ (roughing), 9:25; Shelley, SJ (fighting major), 9:25; Belak, NSH (fighting major), 9:25; Nichol, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:34; Suter, NSH (slashing), 12:34; Ward, NSH (hooking), 13:49.
3rd period - Hamhuis, NSH (boarding), 11:32.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 38 35
NSH - Rinne 29 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 11 7 29
NSH 12 10 16 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 4
NSH 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Dany Heatley
J.P. Dumont
Patrick Marleau
Attendence
16,007
Officials
Referees: Watson, McCauley. Linesmen: McElman, Schachte.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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