Coach Barry Trotz post game comments
Joel Ward, Dan Hamhuis, Cal O' Reilly, and J P Dumont post game comments
Todd McLellan, Dany Heatly, Rob Blake and Evgeni Nabokov post game comments
The San Jose Sharks came in to Music City and showed the Nashville Predators why they are the best team in the Western Conference as they came from behind three times to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at the Sommet Center on Saturday night.
The Sharks were paced by two power play goals from Dany Heatley and a pair of assists from each of his two linemates, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Heatly's goal with 8:03 left in the game proved to be the game winner in spite of the Predator's gallant effort to tie the game late.
The Predators were led by J.P. Dumont who had two goals and Cal O'Reilly who had a career high three assists. Joel Ward had the other Predator goal and ended a streak where the Preds were 9-0 in games in which Ward scored.
Evgeni Nabokov should have been one of the stars of the game as he made repeated game saving goals in the third period when the Preds were applying pressure down the stretch. For the game he stopped 35 of 38 Predator shots.
Pekka Rinne took the loss for the Preds as he gave up four goals on 29 shots. Had Rinne not played as well as he did early in the game, it could have been over much sooner than it was for the Preds.
The Preds jumped on the board early in the game at 1:39 when J.P. Dumont pushed a rebound across the red line off a Marty Erat wrap around to put the Predators ahead 1-0.
San Jose responded at 2:04 by sending Jody Shelly out to match-up with Wade Belak in a fairly pointless heavyweight match. Belak appeared to have won the match in his only 2 seconds of first period action.
At 2:12, San Jose further responded and made it count on the scoreboard when Brad Staubitz scored his third goal of the year to tie the game 1-1.
The Preds put the Sharks third-ranked power play unit on the ice at 4:32 when Alexander Sulzer was called for delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass. The Sharks were able to get three shots but no goal thanks to Pekka Rinne's solid glove play.
Jason Arnott was called for hooking at 6:52. The Predators penalty kill looked good as they did not allow a shot.
The Predators went on the power play for the first time at 12:08 when Dany Heatley was sent to the box for goaltender interference. The Preds managed two shots and hit a post as San Jose showed why they have the best road PK unit in the NHL.
With a flurry of shots at the end of the period the Predators out shot the Sharks 12-11 for the first period. The Sharks led in the Corsi numbers 19-17.
Both teams started the second period skating well with plenty of back and forth play and only three stoppages in the first 6:27 of play.
Brad Staubitz was called for boarding Jordin Tootoo at 6:48 and a brief scuffle ensued. Tootoo showed good discipline for not retaliating especially considering the bad blood from last season when Staubitz used some mixed martial arts elbow to the face moves that left Tootoo with a a bloody broken nose.
The Predator power play came through at 8:47 with a second left on the man advantage when Cal O'Reilly skated the puck into the right face off circle and centered a pass to J. P. Dumont who put it high over Evgeni Nabokov to put the Preds ahead 2-1.
The Sharks responded in similar fashion as they did after the first Predator goal. Jay Leach boarded Tootoo and Shelly and Belak hooked up in their second bout of the evening putting the Preds back on the power play at 9:25. The Preds had two shots on the PP but not score.
At 12:34, coincidental penalties were called against Ryan Suter for slashing and Scotty Nichol for unsportsmanlike conduct. Joel Ward was then whistled for hooking at 13:59 during the four on four to give San Jose a four on three advantage.
Twenty three seconds after play returned to a five on four San Jose man advantage, at 14:57, Dany Heatley let loose of a shot from the high slot that found the back of the Predator net to tie the game 2-2.
At 17:35, Joel Ward chased down a puck off of a Cal O'Reilly takeaway at the Preds blue line and skated the length of the ice and then put it over Nabokov's shoulder to put the Pred's ahead 3-2.
The lead was a short one as San Jose responded again with a goal from Rob Blake at 19:36 on a play where Rinne was able to stop the initial shot from Heatley but was unable to respond to Blake's shot off the rebound.
The Sharks out shot the Preds 11-10 for the second period while the Preds were up on the Corsi numbers 21-19.
The final period began with the teams skating hard and again appeared to be evenly matched. Play was rarely interrupted until Ryan Suter was called for boarding Kent Huskins at 11:32 putting the Sharks on the power play at an inopportune time.
Thirty-one seconds later, Patrick Marleau passed from behind the red line through the blue ice to Heatley who was able to score on the back door play putting the Sharks ahead 4-3 for their first lead of the evening.
San Jose spent the remainder of the contest sucking the life out of the Predators offensive chances and all attempts to mount an attack. The Preds fired repeatedly at the net down the stretch but Nabokov was a wall in goal.
After the final San Jose goal the Preds out shot the Sharks 11-0 for the remainder of play. In the third period the Predators out shot the Sharks 16-7 as they desperately tried to even the contest. Fot the game, the Nashville led in shots 38-29.
Storylines From The Game
Team Canada's First Line Decimated the Predators...
The Sharks line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Parick Marleau, who many think will be left intact for Team Canada at the Olympics, played like goal medal champions against the Preds picking up two goals and five assists for the evening.
Dany Heatley was like a one man wrecking crew against the Preds as he picked up two power play goals, including the game winner, on seven shots.
J. P. Dumont Returns to Form...
After having his ice time cut and being called out by Barry Trotz in the press, J. P. Dumont responded with one of his better games of the season. J.P. scored two goals, including one on the power play, and had four shots.
"We don't really like those guys, they beat us in the playoffs," Dumont relates. "Every time we play them, we know it is going to be a tough game. There is something special when we play them. We should have won that game tonight."
Tale of Two Teams...
There was a decidedly different take on the win in the two locker rooms. The Predators felt that they had played a good game and the Sharks had a different view of the contest.
Coach Barry Trotz said, "We played really well. We got the lead and had great pressure and chances."
Sharks Coach Todd McLellan saw it differently, "We were commenting that it was like a September exhibition game. Things were sloppy with turnovers. If one team got the lead, the other would come back. Things were all over the map."
Cal O'Reilly Breaks Out...
Pred Fans saw flashes of what Cal O'Reilly has been doing in Milwaukee the last two and a half seasons as he had his best game as a Predator picking up three assists.
He was humble after the game stating, "It's only about two points for the team. I would trade those three points for the two points (in the standings) any night. It's about winning, especially with the playoff race so tight. We needed those two points."
Faceoff Issues for the Preds...
The Predators had one of their worst nights of the season in the face off circle winning only 37% of the draws. Jerred Smithson was one for nine and Jason Arnott was only six out of 19 for the game.
"It was a tough night (in the face off circle)," stated Trotz. "They are number one in the league and there is a reason why. They've got a lot of experience, some size and they do a god job in the face off circle. They are a puck possession team and that is their M.O. They want the puck. Face offs have not been a strength for us this year. Part of the reason is a couple of the top guys in the league went to Phoenix (Vern Fiddler) and San Jose (Scott Nichol)."
Shea Weber, Patrick Hornqvist, Martin Erat, Marcel Goc, Alexander Sulzer and Ryan Suter were recognized before the game for their upcoming Olympic appearances. Also recognized was Team USA Assistant General Manager David Poile and Communications Liaison Gerry Helper. The biggest ovation from the crowd was for Team USA member Ryan Suter who becomes the third member of his family to play in the Olympics.
After a day off on Sunday, the Preds will practice at the Sommet Center on Monday. They will then fly out to snowy Long Island on Monday afternoon to begin their four game road trip to play the Islanders, Rangers, Devils and Pens that will wind up their pre-Olympic schedule.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass