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Sharks ride Hertl's goal over Nashville
Antti Niemi earns 29th career shutout
12/13/14 - By Mike Lee -

The home cooking has started to take effect for the San Jose Sharks. After stalling out of the gate early in the season, the Sharks have ripped off six straight home wins, including a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators at SAP Center on Saturday night. The Sharks rode an early goal by Tomas Hertl, then defended against a flurry of Nashville shots in the 3rd period to jump past the Calgary Flames for the 6th spot in the Western Conference.

Antti Niemi's 29 saves carried him to his 29th career shutout. The Sharks netminder was calm and collected throughout the game, but his demeanor led San Jose against the Predators press in the 3rd period.

Hertl opened the game's scoring with a put back chance 5:01 into the game after Joe Pavelski put a shot on Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne from the right side. Hertl followed Pavelski's shot, scooping up the rebound as he cut across the slot from left to right. The Sharks youngster jammed a shot off Renne's left pad, then gathered the rebound and fired it into the wide open net for his 7th goal of the year.

The Sharks controlled most of the opening period, even though they allowed the Predators to enjoy a pair of power play chances. Luckily for the Sharks, Nashville's power play has struggled this season. The 28th ranked power play in the league continued to have difficulties with the man-advantage, mustering little in terms of offensive chances.

San Jose outshot Nashville 18-7 in the period, which was a good representation of how lop-sided the game was in that opening 20 minutes. Only Rinne's steady glove kept his team to within a single goal after 20 minutes.

Nashville started the 2nd period intent on upping the physical part of their game, but a hit 4 minutes into the contest may have cost them their best defenseman. Shea Weber applied a check on Tye McGinn along the boards in front of the Sharks bench, which resulted in injuries to both players. Replays showed Weber landing on McGinn's skate blade, possibly cutting the defenseman in the vicinity of the right armpit.

Both players returned later in the period, but if Weber required stitches, he had the burden of trying to lead his team while suffering through what had to be a miserable injury.

Patrick Marleau appeared to have Renne beat late in the period when the Sharks worked the puck down low during a 4-on-4 situation. The Sharks forward scooped up a rebound just outside the Predators crease, but Renne somehow gathered the puck while laying on his side.

Nashville had scored 43 percent of their goals in the 3rd period this season, which meant the Sharks had to step up their game in order to keep the lead. A holding penalty to Justin Braun at 4:25 into the final frame made things a little more complicated for the Sharks. They would kill the penalty, Nashville's 3rd of the evening, but still had work to do.

After scoring his first career NHL goal earlier in the week, Barclay Goodrow turned into team agitator on Saturday night. Goodrow got under Weber's skin earlier in the contest, then drew a cross-checking penalty on the Predators captain with 7:32 to play. That penalty bailed the Sharks out, because James Sheppard was about to be called for his own cross-checking infraction.

The Weber penalty offset things, allowing the Sharks to skate 4-on-4, rather than down a man.

That helped the Sharks burn another 2 minutes off the clock, which was the primary objective for San Jose. Nashville brought their A-game in that final 20 minute span, throwing 18 shot on Niemi. That exceeded their entire shot total for the first 2 periods by 7 shots.

Niemi's best save of the game, came with 4 minutes to play as Olli Jokinen shot caught him in the left shoulder. Miss that save, and the game would have been tied.

The Predators were forced to pull Rinne with 1:46 to play, but Joe Thornton took care of business. First he won a faceoff in his own end, then deposited the puck into the empty Predators net for his 350th career goal.

Game Notes:

* The 17,059 meant a 9th straight non-sellout for San Jose.

* The Sharks won 46 of 72 draws (63%) on the night. Logan Couture won 9 of 12, Pavelski 14 of 21, and Thornton 10 of 15.

* Joe Pavelski led all skaters with 7 shots on goal.

* San Jose blocked 24 shots in addition to the 29 that reached Niemi.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NSH 0 0 0 0
SJ 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Hertl, 7 (Pavelski, Thornton), 5:01.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Thornton, 8 (Couture, Wingels), 18:26, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Tierney, SJ (hooking), 6:04; Goodrow, SJ (slashing), 17:13; Neal, NSH (cross checking), 19:03; Neal, NSH (fighting major), 19:03; Wingels, SJ (fighting major), 19:03.
2nd period - Jones, NSH (hooking), 7:54; Fisher, NSH (high sticking), 12:54; Sheppard, SJ (holding the stick), 12:54.
3rd period - Braun, SJ (holding), 4:25; Weber, NSH (cross checking), 12:28; Sheppard, SJ (cross checking), 12:28; Neal, NSH (embellishment), 19:39; Ellis, NSH (10 min misconduct), 19:39; Goodrow, SJ (slashing), 19:39; Goodrow, SJ (10 min misconduct), 19:39.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NSH - Rinne 33 32
NSH - empty net 1 0
SJ - Niemi 29 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NSH 7 4 18 29
SJ 18 11 5 34
Power Play Conversion
NSH 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Pekka Rinne
Joe Thornton
Attendence
17,059
Officials
Referees: L'Ecuyer, Dwyer. Linesmen: Sharrers, Galloway.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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