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Five 3rd period goals propel Sharks
SJ take 1-0 series lead in WCSF
4/29/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks last played a week ago when they ended the Los Angeles Kings season with a 6-3 win in Southern California, so it wasn't a surprise that they had a few cobwebs to deal with. San Jose spent the better part of 40 minutes in search of their legs, but when they found them it was a beautiful thing. San Jose erupted for a franchise record 5 goals in the 3rd period to knock off the Nashville Predators to take Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Final match-up.

The Predators create a much different challenge for the Sharks than the one the Kings afforded, with a stout defense that offers little in terms of opportunities. Throw in a Vezina caliber goaltender in Pekka Rinne, and the Sharks were up against an opponent that isn't going to give up many goals.

The Sharks performance against the Predators during the regular season was another indicator that this is a tailor made match-up for San Jose. Then they played the game.

San Jose may have actually scored a goal in the opening period, but a crazy play that saw the Predators knock their own goal off the moorings as Melker Karlsson fired a shot on what looked to be an open net resulted in nothing for the Sharks.

Mike Fisher capitalized on a Matt Nieto penalty early in the 2nd period with a shot from the left side that Sharks goaltender Martin Jones clipped with his glove, but the puck squeezed past him for the 1-0 lead.

A decision to dump and chase seemed to work against the Sharks throughout the first two periods as the Nashville defense repeatedly out-raced San Jose to the puck. The Sharks couldn't muster much in terms of any sustained pressure in the Nashville zone, because the puck was constantly being controlled by the Predators.

Ryan Johansen may have been the catalyst for the Sharks as his holding penalty 50 seconds into the 3rd period launched the Sharks demolition of the Predators. Tomas Hertl converted on the ensuing power play by threading a shot just under Rinne's glove from the bottom of the right circle at 2:37 of the 3rd period.

Hertl's goal also woke up the lethargic SAP Center crowd, who had been subject to few chances early in the contest.

Joel Ward struck at the 11:49 mark of the period, taking a pretty lead pass from Joonas Donskoi as he drove up the middle of the ice. Ward split two defenders on his way to the net, and waited out Rinne as the Predators goaltender was forced to droop to the ice as Ward veered right. Ward swooped past Rinne on the right side and tucked the puck around the right post after navigating past the goaltender's leg pad.

Calle Jarnkrok clipped Donskoi with a high stick with 4:40 left in regulation to setup the Sharks 3rd goal of the period. Joe Pavelski caught Logan Couture cutting toward the net from the high slot, and feathered a pass to his linemate as Couture swooped in on net. The Sharks forward quickly flipped a backhand chance over Rinne's left shoulder after receiving Pavelski's pass.

Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette decided to pull Rinne with 3 minutes remaining in regulation and the move paid instant dividends.

Roman Josi fired a shot on net that pin-balled off Brent Burns skate, before hitting Ryan Johansen in the face and into the San Jose goal. It was a fluke goal that Martin Jones had no chance of stopping, but all of a sudden, the Predators were back to within a single goal of the Sharks.

The Predators had 1:49 remaining in regulation and were forced to keep their net empty. Couture was the benefactor of the absence of a netminder after he worked the puck past Shea Weber up the left wing board. He would cap the play with a shot into the empty net for a 4-2 Sharks lead.

Tommy Wingels got in on the act 30 seconds later, blocking a shot in his own zone then grabbing the rebound and depositing his 1st career playoff goal in the empty net to put the game out of reach.

Eric Nystrom decided to vent some frustration at the final horn by going after Karlsson along the side boards next to the Sharks bench. Everyone skater on the ice convened on the spot to forrm abig scrum that turned into several skirmishes. When the officials separated everyone, Colton Sissons, Barrett Jackman and Roman Polak were assessed a bundle of meaningless penalty minutes.

The Arena erupted into a frenzy as the Sharks kicked off the series with the all important opening game win.

Game Notes:

* The game was not a sellout, which was a bit of a surprise, given that the game was the start of the second round. Only 17,026 paid were in attendance to see the game.

* Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl were a combined -3 for the game.

* The two teams combined for 74 hits.

* Brent Burns and Shea Weber led their respective teams in ice time. Both players eclipsed the 25 minute mark.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NSH 0 1 1 2
SJ 0 0 5 5
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, NSH, Fisher 2 (Johansen, Ekholm), 4:33, (pp).
3rd period - 2, SJ, Hertl 2 (Ward, Vlasic), 2:37, (pp). 3, SJ, Ward 1 (Donskoi, Burns), 11:49. 4, SJ, Couture 2 (Pavelski, Burns), 15:40, (pp). 5, NSH, Johansen, 2 (Josi, Wilson), 18:11. 6, SJ, Couture 3 (unassisted), 18:31, (en). 7, SJ, Wingels 1 (unassisted), 19:10, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Karlsson, SJ (tripping), 10:52.
2nd period - Nieto, SJ (tripping), 2:45; Nystrom, NSH (interference), 5:31.
3rd period - Johansen, NSH (holding), 0:50; Jarnkrok, NSH (high sticking), 15:20; Sissons, NSH (roughing), 20:00; Sissons, NSH (roughing), 20:00; Jackman, NSH (roughing), 20:00; Jackman, NSH (roughing), 20:00; Jackman, NSH (10 min misconduct), 20:00; Polak, SJ (roughing), 20:00; Polak, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NSH - Rinne 36 33
NSH - empty net 2 0
SJ - Jones 31 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NSH 12 10 9 31
SJ 11 14 13 38
Power Play Conversion
NSH 1 of 2
SJ 2 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joel Ward
Logan Couture
Tomas Hertl
Attendance
17,026
Officials
Referees: Kozari, Watson. Linesmen: Cormier, Miller.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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