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Jones leads Sharks to 2-0 series lead
SJ grabs another 3rd period win
5/1/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks had the advantage of playing a tired Nashville Predators team in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semi-Final match-up, but Game 2 was a much different story. Nashville came out firing on Sunday afternoon, outplaying the Sharks for the better part of 60 minutes, but San Jose's netminder Martin Jones had a career game in net to help the Sharks take a 3-2 win at SAP Center, vaulting the team to a 2-0 series lead.

Jones had a career high 37 saves, which included a flurry of chances by the Predators late in the game as the Sharks clung to a 2-1 lead. Jones was cool as a cucumber when it counted most. The Sharks goaltender was forced to defend against three Predators power plays, including a Brendan Dillon roughing infraction 6:34 into the 3rd period.

Those Predator power plays were golden opportunities for Nashville to knock the Sharks off their game, but it was Jones that kept the net clear of any rubber.

That proved bigger later in the game because the Sharks weren't capitalizing on their chances either. San Jose came out with the foot on the peddle in the opening period, but Jones adversary, Pekka Rinne, made life miserable for the Sharks offense.

Both teams traded quality scoring chances in the opening minutes, but Nashville generated more shots on net. The Sharks may have been kicking themselves during the 1st intermission after they misfired on the game's first power play following a Roman Josi cross checking penalty. The Sharks special teams unit looked as if they were toying with the Predators, but just couldn't get the puck past Rinne.

Nashville took control in the middle frame, out-shooting the Sharks 16-10. Things turned sour for the Sharks after they turned the puck over and were forced to throw an attacker on the ice to try and defend against the Predators chance. That turned into a penalty for too many men on the ice with 4:44 left in the period. The Sharks penalty kill and Jones denied the Predators any quality chances, limiting Nashville to a long shot from Filip Forsberg.

The tide would turn shortly after the Sharks killed the penalty, when the Predators were called for the same penalty. The Sharks had the remaining 1:57 of the period to try and score, but Logan Couture decided to get it done early.

Brent Burns fired a shot from the right point that Rinne stopped with a pad save, but may have thought the puck squeezed between his pads. Looking over his right shoulder, he lost sight of the puck that had trickled out to his right. Couture saw it as he cut across the top of the crease, slamming the puck home for his 4th tally of the playoffs.

Nashville didn't roll over, coming out firing in the 3rd period. San Jose got past the Dillon penalty, but they wouldn't be so lucky when Mattias Ekholm ripped a shot through traffic at 12:56 of the period. Jones was screened by about 50 players on the shot that caught the upper right corner of the net.

San Jose leaned on their captain late in the game to get the goal that would give them the lead for good. Like the Couture goal, Pavelski deposited a rebound off Rinne. Joe Thornton setup the chance with a bullet pass across the high slot, hitting Matt Nieto on the left wing. Nieto pumped a shot from the bottom of the left circle, hitting Rinne in the chest with the shot. Pavelski saw the puck bounce to the right side, where he swept it home as Weber tried diving to defend Pavelski's 6th of the playoffs.

Down by a goal, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Rinne with 2 minutes to play. The Predators pushed the puck into the Sharks zone, forcing a faceoff in the San Jose end. Thornton overcame the faceoff blues the team suffered against the Kings in the Western Conference Quarter Finals, by winning a key draw with a minute left in the game. The Sharks moved the puck out of their zone, capping it with a pass to Thornton who walked the puck into the empty net to push the Sharks lead to 3-1.

That was critical because the Predators kept coming. They would convert with 3.6 seconds left, when Ryan Johansen flipped a puck past Jones. The Sharks netminder defended a flurry of shots as bodies crowded his crease. The Sharks netminder was pushed into his own goal as several players swatted at the puck. Johansen picked it up after it trickled out to the left side.

That goal would have tied it had it not been for Thornton's big faceoff win and subsequent empty net goal.

SAP Center has been a house of horrors for Nashville in the playoffs, as they dropped to 0-6 all time in San Jose. In that span, they've given up just under 4 goals per game.

The series now shifts to Nashville, where the two teams will square off for Game 3 on Tuesday.

Game Notes:

* Marc-Edouard Vlasic suffered a scary injury in the 3rd period, when Shea Weber unloaded on a shot that caught the Sharks defenseman right between the eyes. If not for a protective eye shield, Vlasic could have suffered a catastrophic injury. The defenseman was keeled over with his hands at his face for a good minute before popping up and skating to the Sharks bench. He would finish the game by leading all skaters with 24:03 of ice time.

* The power play goal was San Jose's 8th of the playoffs, which give them a 30.7% conversion rate. That's tops in the league this post season.

* Pavelski and his 6 goals is also ranked first in the NHL.

* Brent Burns has recorded a point in 4 straight games.

* Martin Jones now holds a .920 save percentage in the series.


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1 2 3 T
NSH 0 0 2 2
SJ 0 1 2 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Couture 4 (Pavelski, Burns), 18:36, (pp).
3rd period - 2, NSH, Ekholm 3 (Wilson, Josi), 12:56. 3, SJ, Pavelski 6 (Nieto, Thornton), 17:20. 4, SJ, Thornton 2 (Couture, Pavelski), 19:04, (en). 5, NSH, Johansen 3 (Josi, Fisher), 19:55.
1st period - Josi, NSH (cross checking), 6:24; Ward, SJ (tripping), 13:38.
2nd period - Bench SJ (too many men), 15:16; Bench, NSH (too many men), 18:03.
3rd period - Dillon, SJ (roughing), 6:34.
Shots Saves
NSH - Rinne 24 22
NSH - empty net 1 0
SJ - Jones 39 37
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NSH 10 16 13 39
SJ 7 10 8 25
Power Play Conversion
NSH 0 of 3
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Martin Jones
Pekka Rinne
Joe Pavelski
Referees: Lee, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Cormier, Miller.
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