Fueled by a dominant first period showing, the Sharks managed to overcome a spectacular performance by Pekka Rinne to notch their sixth straight home victory and their seventh win overall in their last eight games while downing an upstart Nashville Predators team in the process.
San Jose outshot the Predators, who had the fourth-best even strength shot differential in the NHL coming into this game, 29-11 through two periods, forcing Rinne to make a host of difficult saves to keep Nashville within one following Tomas Hertl's conversion of a rebound five minutes into the first.
Rinne robbed Scott Hannan and Patrick Marleau on the doorstep in succession during a four-on-four sequence, stopped Logan Couture's short-side bid on a 2-on-1 and made seven separate saves on Joe Pavelski alone. It still wasn't enough as Antti Niemi stood tall down the stretch and preserved the shutout, allowing the Sharks to enter a four-day break in sole possession of third place in the Pacific Division.
- Brenden Dillon and Brent Burns are really starting to read off each other, particularly on defensive-zone reverses in order to initiate more successful breakouts. They've been a legitimately effective second pairing for the Sharks lately and that's great to see, especially as it comes while Justin Braun has somewhat struggled on the top pair.
- Barclay Goodrow was once again the catalyst for another excellent game from the third line. He's a buzzsaw on the forecheck, has underrated hands and seemed to really get under Shea Weber's skin throughout the course of the game. There's no reason for someone like Mike Brown or John Scott to be playing over Goodrow when everyone is healthy.
- So Hertl, Thornton and Pavelski are pretty awesome. Now that Hertl looks like himself again those three have been managing to dominate possession and generate a boatload of chances despite their general lack of footspeed. They were essentially flawless through two periods tonight.
- Three games in thirteen days will probably see the Sharks slide a bit in the division standings but what's important is that they've been able to get back to playing their successful brand of hockey with points to show for it.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Pekka Rinne
2nd Star: Antti Niemi
3rd Star: Joe Thornton