Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Predators Bite Back, Defeat the Sharks 4-1

With their backs against the wall and down 2-0, the Nashville Predators needed an attacking, aggressive game to get back into their series with the San Jose Sharks.

Mission accomplished.

The Predators attacked all night and defeated the Sharks 4-1 to cut the Sharks series lead to 2-1.

After a fluky goal by Patrick Marleau, a play in which both Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne misplayed the puck, the Predators scored 4 consecutive goals to secure the win.

And the Predators power play finally woke up, with 2 of those tallies coming with the man advantage.

James Neal opened the scoring with the Predators on the power play with a snipe from below the face off circle that beat Martin Jones high glove side.

Shea Weber made it 2-1 with a howitzer from the slot that Jones is still trying to find.

Up 2-1 going into the third period, the Predators couldn't sit bakc and let the Sharks take the play to them.

The Predators didn't turtle, instead forcing the play in the Sharks zone.

Colin Wilson banked a puck off the back of Jones to make it 3-1.

Filip Forsberg finished the scoring with a power play goal for the final margin of 4-1.

Some observations:

  • Pekka Rinne has been a steady presence in this series but was outstanding tonight. Outside of the crazy play that led to the Sharks only goal, Rinne was a rock between the pipes. He tracked the puck well, especially through traffic. His positioning was sound and his rebound control was excellent. He did a good job of frustrating the Sharks all night. This was big and hopefully gives the team confidence and gets in the head of the Sharks.
  • Mike Ribeiro has had an awful playoff series, both in round 1 and through the first two games of this series. He was a healthy scratch tonight, and frankly the Predators looked better for it. They won the face off battle 36-25 and had more speed and jump with the remixed lines. I don't expect to see Ribeiro back in the line up again for the remainder of the playoffs.
  • With Ribeiro out, the forward lines were: Johansen-Neal-Forsberg; Fisher-Smith-Wilson; Jarnkrok-Aberg-Arvidsson; and Gaustad-Sissons-Salomaki.
  • Pontus Aberg played in his first NHL game on the line with Calle Jarnkrok and Viktor Arvidsson. I can only imagine the butterflies that he must have had, but he acquitted himself well. He used his speed to find open ice and made no glaring defensive mistakes. Aberg has a lot of upside, and this will be a confidence booster for him.
  • Craig Smith isn't 100% healthy, and it shows. he didn't find the score sheet, but he played with a lot of heart and gutted it out tonight. Big props to the Honey Badger for his effort.
  • Colton Sissons was run into the net and I thought he had broken his leg. He was taken to the locker room for x-rays, which were negative, and amazingly, he was back on the ice after missing a shift. That is a hockey player, friends.
  • Woeful officiating tonight. No penalty on the Sissons play; Colin Wilson high sticked in front of the refs and no call. The League is going to have to make a commitment to quality officiating or they will continue to be an embarrassment among professional sports leagues.
  • With his goal, Shea Weber has tied David Legwand for the most playoff goals in team history with 13 goals.
  • Weber, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Colin Wilson, and Mattias Ekholm are tied for the team lead in playoff goals with 3 each.
  • The Predators blocked 19 shots tonight.
  • Good to see the power play finally start to click. They were 2-5 tonighht, and it is critical that this unit get going. They did tonight and will need to do so with consistency in the upcoming games.
  • The Sharks entered this game having burnt the Predators by going 3-5 on the power play in the first 2 games. Tonight, the Predators PK was excellent, killing all 4 of the Sharks man advantage attempts.
  • This was the Sharks first road loss of the playoffs.
  • Mattias Ekholm led the Predators in TOI with 24:35.
This was undoubtedly a confidence building win for the Predators. They have seen that when they attack and use their speed, the Sharks have difficulty handling the attack.

Now they have to do the same thing again on Thursday.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Shea Weber

3. James Neal

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