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More 3rd period fail
Predators score a pair of late goals to steal win
12/15/10 - By Mike Lee -

It’s hard to believe that Wednesday night was the first time this season that the Sharks lost in regulation after blowing a 3rd period lead. They’ve blown so many late leads this season that it was easy to assume this was just another loss. Not so. San Jose coughed up a lead late to kick off their three game road trip in Nashville but wouldn’t record a point after doing so for the first time this year.

Just 4 minutes from a road victory, the Sharks let the foot off the gas and has been the case all too often this season, they paid the price for it. More troubling is the fact that they’re starting to get decent goaltending, but are hanging their goaltender’s out to dry.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made his 4th straight start for San Jose. His strong play against the Stars on Monday night warranted another start, but like Monday night, his teammates would let a strong goaltending performance go by the wayside. Nashville countered with 6-foot, 6-inch netminder Anders Lindback, who was riding a two-game shut-out streak. San Jose would take care of that streak after getting their legs in the opening period.

Niklas Wallin staked the Sharks to the early 1-0 after unloading a cannon shot from the top of the left circle after Benn Ferriero kicked out a pass from the opposite wing boards. With the Nashville defense focused on the puck and the San Jose offense along the right wing, Wallin had all day to setup his big shot, beating Lindback.

San Jose just missed making it 2-0 with 4:30 to play in the period when a deflection off Lindback kicked out to the slot for a one-timer by Ferriero from 15 feet. Lindberg stopped Ferriero’s shot along with the follow up on the ensuing rebound.

Ryane Clowe would follow that attempt with a nice chance with just under two minutes before the intermission, but his shot would sail just wide.

A high sticking penalty to Predators forward Andrei Kostitsyn early in the 2nd period was negated by a cross checking call against Dany Heatley right in front of the Nashville net, 24 seconds into the power play. Heatley would make things worse by chirping at the referees, earning himself an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

San Jose would kill off the extended Nashville power play, but then Heatley misfired on a big chance to score right after exiting the box when his shot on a 3-on-2 chance went wide of the net.

Nashville had trouble getting any shots on net, so Predators trouble maker Jordin Tootoo decided to throw the puck in the vicinity from the Sharks en boards. The move would pay off when Scott Nichol accidentally deflected Tootoo’s centering attempt between Niemi’s pads for the own goal.

A tripping penalty to Shane O’Brien would give San Jose a late power play, and Heatley would make amends for his transgressions earlier in the game. Joe Thornton would serve up a pass from the right corner as Heatley skated down the slot. Quick hands by Heatley would redirect the pass past Lindback for the 2-1 lead.

The 3rd period started off with 15 minutes of mundane hockey. Neither team seemed interested in creating offensive opportunities and the puck refused to stay on anyone stick for any prolonged period. That would all begin to shift with 5 minutes left in the game.

The first men would come when former Sharks forward Marcel Goc missed on a one-time chance on a chance from the right side. The play started exposed the Sharks defense, which began to slack off assignments down low.

The Predators would finally get to Niemi when Kostitsyn chipped home a Shea Weber shot from the right side with 3:16 to play. The Sharks defense focused on Weber, failing to pick up Kostitsyn as he skated right down the slot and pushed Weber’s pass just inside the left post.

The defense would implode 44 seconds later when Jason Demers botched an attempt to pinch in the offensive zone, allowing the Predators to push the puck up ice on 3-on-1 play. Colin Wilson would end the rush by depositing his 5th goal of the season past Niemi to give the Predators the unlikely lead.

Tootoo would give San Jose a glimmer of hope by tossing a puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty with 1:52 left in regulation, but the Sharks would squander the power play. Even after pulling Niemi to give themselves a two-man advantage, the Sharks spent more time passing then actually putting pucks on Lindback.

Game Notes:

Defenseman Douglas Murray missed his second straight game with a lower body injury. Devin Setoguchi returned to the lineup.




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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
NSH 0 1 2 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Wallin 3 (Ferriero, Braun), 7:25.
2nd period - 2, NSH, Tootoo (unassisted), 12:14. 3, SJ, Heatley 14 (Thornton), 17:26, (pp).
3rd period - 4, NSH, Kostitsyn 5 (Weber, Suter), 16:44. 5, NSH, Wilson 7 (Sullivan, Goc), 17:28.
Penalties
1st period - Nichol, SJ (hooking), 19:09.
2nd period - Kostitsyn, NSH (high sticking), 1:43; Heatley, SJ (cross checking), 2:07; Heatley, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:07; Smithson, NSH (hooking), 12:48; O’Brien, NSH (tripping), 16:29; Demers, SJ (tripping), 18:04.
3rd period - Tootoo, NSH (delay of game – puck over glass), 18:08.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 35 32
NSH - Lindback 27 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 10 8 27
NSH 13 7 15 35
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
NSH 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Colin Wilson
Anders Lindback
Andrei Kostitsyn
Attendence
14,731
Officials
Referees: StLaurent, Joannette. Linesmen: Driscoll, Kovachik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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