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Sharks roll over in Game 6
Blown leads and complacency dooms San Jose
5/9/15 - By Mike Lee -

The not so illustrious history of the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs is scarred with one simple fact. They've never been able to put teams away when they had the chance. With all the momentum following their Game 5 pasting of the Nashville Predators in their pocket, the Sharks pulled another underwhelming performance in Game 6 on Monday night, letting the Predators back into the series.

Viktor Arvidsson sent a 30-foot backhand shot past Martin Jones in overtime to force a deciding Game 7 on Thursday. All the stars aligned for Arvidsson as a high arching dump-in was misplayed by Melker Karlsson, allowing the forward to gain control of the puck, move past a flat-footed Marc-Edouard Vlasic, then sending a seeing-eye shot over Jones left shoulder.

It was a one-in-a-million shot that only the Sharks could surrender. They blew a 2-0 and 3-2 lead to hand the Predators another overtime win. It was another blown lead in the 3rd period, much like Game 4, which also ended in an overtime loss.

The Sharks were guilty of a complacency that will get them bounced from the playoffs if they don't correct that attitude. And at the end of the day, it simply comes down to attitude. The ghosts of playoff failures past were circling the rink from the 2nd period on.

San Jose broke the ice after a tentative opening 10 minutes by both teams, when Chris Tierney deflected a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot with his stick blade. Tierney was loitering inside the left circle and his redirect crossed up Pekka Rinne as the puck went from a shoulder high shot, to a trajectory that slipped under the Predator goaltender's left leg pad.

Tierney made it a 2-0 game 2 minutes later by punching home a deflection from the right side after Matt Nieto bounced a shot off of Rinne. The Predators goaltender was forced to cover the left side of the net, but he lost his footing as the puck kicked over to the right side where Tierney was slicing in on the wing.

A Tomas Hertl turnover gave the Predators life with 4 minutes and change remaining in the period. The Sharks forward tried skating out of his own zone up the left wing, but Roman Josi picked his pocket along the boards. The Nashville defenseman did an about face and skated up the slot whipping a shot that hit Sharks a skate and floated over Jones and the goal line in slow motion.

Vlasic and Craig Smith mixed it up at the end of the period, resulting in off-setting penalties. That mean't 4-on-4 hockey to start the 2nd period, and the Predators quickly capitalized. Ryan Johansen walked the puck in on Martin Jones from the right corner, and pushed a shot home for his 4th goal of the playoffs. San Jose's defense essentially watched Johansen carry the puck in on their net with little attempt at stopping the Nashville forward.

Joe Pavelski was sent off for hooking Craig Smith 2 minutes into the 3rd period, but the Sharks killed the Predators power play with solid positioning and patience. Pavelski was cut by an errant Miikka Salomaki stick but no penalty was called.

Salomaki wasn't so lucky the next time he decided to go high with the stick. That came at the 9 minute mark of the period, when he speared Jones in the throat with his twig. The Predators forward was sent off for goaltender interference, which setup the Sharks first power play of the game.

Logan Couture made the most of the chance, burying a shot from the left dot after Rinne slipped at the top of his crease. Couture simply had to find his mark between the pipes to score.

Patrick Marleau missed on a chance a minute later after chipping the puck past two defenders. The Sharks centerman raced in on net, but failed to get the puck off the ice, allowing Rinne to sweep it wide.

The missed chance would bite the Sharks on the next shift as Colin Wilson tapped home a backdoor pass from James Neal as the Sharks defense fell asleep and allowed the Predators forward to slip to an undefended spot on the doorstep. It was another blown lead, and fuel for the Nashville crowd.

That energy carried the Predators the remainder of the game. They never relinquished it. San Jose simplified things by playing a game content to simply try and keep the puck out of their own net. Of course it's difficult to win a tied game when you have no offensive opportunities, or even bother to try and create those opportunities.

The ghosts were circling and it was simply a matter of time before Nashville finished them off.

Game Notes:>

* The Sharks woeful performance in the faceoff circle continues to haunt them. It's pretty hard to score if you don't control the puck, and the Sharks shot themselves in the foot by controlling only 42% of their faceoffs. They were 3-of-17 in the 1st period.

* Brendan Dillon led the woeful defensive performance with a -3 on the night. Nick Spaling and Justin Braun added -2 nights.

* No Sharks player recorded more than 2 shots on goal during the game. Again, difficult to shoot something you don't control. San Jose was perpetually in the defensive zone the final 42 minutes of the game.

* The one bright spot on the night was the power play, which finished a perfect 1-for-1. Of course the Sharks were denied more opportunities by blatant misses by referees Jean Hebert and Kelly Sutherland.





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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 2 0 1 0 3
NSH 1 1 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Tierney 2 (Vlasic, Hertl), 9:55. 2, SJ, Tierney 3 (Nieto, Burns), 11:51. 3, NSH, Josi 1 (unassisted), 15:27.
2nd period - 4, NSH, Johansen 4 (Ellis), 1:25.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Couture 6 (Burns, Thornton), 10:04, (pp). 6, NSH, Wilson 5 (Neal, Ribeiro), 12:44.
Overtime - 7, NSH, Arvidsson 1 (Salomaki, Rinne), 2:03.
Penalties
1st period - Vlasic, SJ (roughing), 19:48; Smith, NSH (roughing), 19:48.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Pavelski, SJ (hooking), 2:07; Salomaki, NSH (goaltender interference), 8:59.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 32 28
NSH - Rinne 18 15
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 8 4 5 1 18
NSH 5 14 11 2 32
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 1
NSH 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Viktor Arvidsson
Colin Wilson
Ryan Johansen
Attendance
17,292
Officials
Referees: Hebert, Sutherland. Linesmen: Cherrey, Sharrers.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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