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Predators feast on Sharks
Still no answers for struggling Sharks
2/17/15 - By Mike Lee -

There's not much to cheer about in Sharkville these days. With the NHL trade deadline and playoffs on the horizon, the Sharks have been less than inspiring the last two weeks. The opportunities are slipping away as playoff caliber teams begin to jockey for position. Though not much of an opportunity, the Sharks fell to the Western Conference leading Nashville Predators on Tuesday night with a depressing 5-1 decision.

With just about every team in the Pacific Division winning on Monday night, the Sharks needed a win in Tennessee to keep pace. They got exactly the opposite. San Jose scored a 1st period goal, then let the Predators run roughshod on them.

Nashville scored 5 unanswered goals, further exposing a defense that is doing anything but stopping the opposition from putting pucks in the net.

The obvious storyline for this game was Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne's spectacular performance, stopping 42 of 43 shots. Many of Rinne's stops were crazy highlight reel variety saves, but the theme continues to be the same for San Jose. They can't outscore their opponents.

After Matt Irwin staked the Sharks to a 1-0 lead 5:26 into the game, it was all downhill from there. The Sharks actually played an up tempo style, working hard and pushing matters, but when you can't score, all that ended up doing was setting up the inevitable.

Alex Stalock got a rare start in net, and probably wished that was pushed back a month or so. The Predators tied the game later in the period after winning a faceoff in the Sharks zone. Mike Fisher drew the puck back to Shea Webber, who used that rocket shot to pump the puck past Stalock from the right point.

Sloppy puck handling cost the Sharks minutes later. A limp-wristed clearing attempt by Matt Nieto landed on Mike Ribiero's stick just inside the Sharks blueline. Craig Smith finished things off by swatting home a deflection off Stalock for the 2-0 Predators lead.

Nashville scored three more goals in the 2nd period to put the Sharks out of their misery. A Brendon Dillon interference penalty at the end of the opening period carried over to the 2nd. Smith converted the power play, jamming home the puck after Stalock allowed a rebound to the right side of the crease.

Paul Gausted scored his first goal in 47 games less than a minute later, after Melker Karlsson fell down, allowing the Predators forward to take a Gabriel Bourque feed and walk in on Stalock unimpeded.

James Neal completed the pounding with his 20th goal of the season at 10:31 of the period. Neal skated in on an odd man rush and whipped a 25 foot shot past Stalock. Neal has now scored at least 20 goals in each of his 7 NHL seasons.

Even after giving up the 5 goals, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan elected to stick with Stalock. A report by ESPN hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday suggested that the Sharks are shopping Niemi. The goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 0 1
NSH 2 3 0 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Irwin 5 (Karlsson, Pavelski), 5:26. 2, NSH, Weber 14 (Fisher), 13:42. 3, NSH, Smith 16 (Ekholm, Ribeiro), 16:02.
2nd period - 4, NSH, Smith 17 (Wilson, Jones), 0:53, (pp). 5, NSH, Gaustad 2 (Bourque, Weber), 1:43. 6, NSH, Neal 20 (Ribeiro), 10:31.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Cullen, NSH (interference), 16:33; Dillon, SJ (interference), 19:21.
2nd period - Fisher, NSH (holding), 2:14.
3rd period - Smith, NSH (hooking), 5:04; Braun, SJ (hooking), 7:54.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Stalock 37 32
NSH - Rinne 43 42
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 17 15 11 43
NSH 15 13 9 37
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
NSH 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Pekka Rinne
Craig Smith
Mike Ribeiro
Attendance
16,206
Officials
Referees: Hebert, Kozari. Linesmen: Cormier, Elman.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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