The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators played for just the second time this season. The two teams took turns carrying stretches of play during the game, but the Predators dominated the Sharks in the face-off circle. Additionally, Nashville made a number of late adjustments to the lineup, inserting both Ryan Ellis and Juuse Saros for the midday tilt at SAP Center in San Jose.
Rookie netminder Juuse Saros was solid in goal for the Predators during the first period. The Sharks controlled long stretches of play all period long, and the 5’10 Finn tracked the puck well and kept the Sharks to a single goal.
Paul Martin had the only shot that beat Saros in the opening period. Right off the face-off, Jannik Hansen and Joe Pavelski helped create a screen in front of Saros. Martin’s slap shot from the left point found its way through and got the Sharks out to an early lead. The Predators struggles for shot attempts continued after falling behind. But on just the seventh shot attempt of the game, Ryan Johansen’s fluky snap shot beat Martin Jones to level the score. The puck was kept in by Roman Josi and bounced off Justin Braun’s skate and directly to Johansen.
The Predators are the NHL’s best second-period team, scoring 50 goals more than the opposition in the middle stanza. That excellence after the first intermission bore fruit again when Colin Wilson got a whack on Dylan DeMelo’s stick to create a turnover. Wilson then threw the puck to a breaking James Neal for his 19th goal of the campaign, giving the Predators the lead.
The Sharks maintained the shot attempt lead but long stretches of the middle period were carried by the Predators. The score could have easily been 3-1 if not for a lucky left pad save by Jones on a puck he never saw.
Preds certainly have the better of the play this period. Playing with urgency…
— Cheryl🏍🦈Ganapol (@31HarleyShark) March 11, 2017
The Sharks power play that looked so solid in a 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals just two nights ago slid back to predictability and little shot generation. After 40 minutes of action, the Predators held 20-19 shots on goal lead.
The Sharks nearly evened the score early in the third period. Patrick Marleau had Saros down on the ice, but the Predators goalie got a glove on it to keep the game 2-1.
The Sharks pressure continued, and Anthony Bitetto interfered with Joonas Donskoi in front of the Nashville net sending San Jose to its third power play. The Predators’ domination in the face-off circle had been an issue all game but became a major issue in the third period as the Sharks struggled to gain the puck and Saros continued to swallow it up.
The Sharks had a chance with 2:30 left in the game to get the equalizer when Neal was whistled for slashing Donskoi in front of the Nashville net. But the same themes kept constant as the Sharks lost the resulting face-off and could not get much going on the resulting power play even when it turned to a 6-on-4 when Martin Jones was pulled for the extra skater. Viktor Avidsson recorded a short-handed empty-net goal to ice the game and sent the Predators home with a pair of points.
Paul Martin (4) Assisted by Joe Thornton
Ryan Johansen (11) Assisted by Roman Josi
James Neal (19) Assisted by Colin Wilson
Viktor Arvidsson (24) (Shorthanded) (Empty Net) Assisted by PK Subban
THW Three Stars
First Star: Juuse Saros (25 saves)
Second Star: James Neal (Goal)
Third Star: Paul Martin (Goal)
San Jose Sharks vs. Dallas Stars
SAP Center – 7:00 PM PST on Mar. 12, 2017
Broadcast Channels: CSN-CA, FS-SW
First Game of the Season Series
Nashville Predators vs. Winnipeg Jets
Bridgestone Arena – 8:00 PM EST on Mar. 13, 2017
Broadcast Channels: FS-TN, TSN3
Nov. 25: Predators 5 – Jets 1
Nov. 26: Jets 3 – Predators 0