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Sharks vs. Predators, Game 1 Preview: San Jose opens up at home against Nashville

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After a week with no hockey, it's good to be back.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a long layoff, the Sharks begin the second round at home against the Nashville Predators tonight. San Jose sat around since last Friday, when team teal eliminated the Kings in game five of the first round series. The Predators, on the contrary, are anything but rusty. Their game seven win over Anaheim on Wednesday certainly sits fresh in the mind of the Nashville dressing room. The Predators will look to continue their underdog run against San Jose.

The Sharks unseated their biggest rival in the first round and will have to take the Predators every bit as seriously to get to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011. San Jose's only win against Nashville in the regular season came in the shootout, an area the Sharks can't rely on for wins in the playoffs.

If the Predators' first round series against the Ducks is any indication, expect Nashville to try to get under the skin of San Jose. It's imperative to the Sharks success that San Jose not give in to the goading of guys like James Neal, who seek to agitate (and occasionally contribute, of course). The Sharks did well to avoid any such head games when taking down Milan Lucic and the Kings, and it's important they continue that trend against the Predators — while also making the power play a factor.

Pekka Rinne didn't have a great season, or a Rinne-like first round for that matter, but he's always a threat to steal a game or a series. With Martin Jones in net, San Jose has to find a way to solve Rinne and take the pressure off the young goaltender. Joe Pavelski played a magnificent series against the Kings, but look for depth players like Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi to contribute in expanded roles in the second round.

This should be a fun one. Go Sharks.

Tale Of The Tape

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San Jose Sharks
41-27-14 Regular Season Record 46-30-6
4th in Central Regular Season Finish 3rd in Pacific
53.7%
Regular Season Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick 53.3%
99.4
Regular Season PDO 100.4
19.7
Regular Season PP% 22.5
81.2
Regular Season PK% 80.5

7:30PM PDT | SAP Center | San Jose
TV: NBCSN | Radio: SJSharks.com98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: On the Forecheck

Last Meeting

The only game the Sharks won against Nashville during the regular season came in a shootout. Tomas Hertl scored twice to tie the game at two and Logan Couture scored in the shootout.

Storylines

  • The first round of the playoffs was called noticeably tighter than in years past — will that hold true for the second round?
  • San Jose didn't have much success against Nashville during the regular season. Is it a small sample size or a bad matchup for the Sharks?
  • The Sharks' home record isn't very good, but with home ice secured for this series it'd be nice to see San Jose put any thoughts of a SAP Center jinx to bed.
  • It has been a full week since the last time the Sharks played and we'll probably see some rust early. Can the Sharks hold off the Predators long enough to get comfortable?