The Sharks have been playing exceptional hockey all year, but have not always been rewarded for many of their dominant efforts this season. Last night, the Sharks took on their toughest road test of the season so far in the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Nashville Predators. Smashville started the campaign at a red-hot 7-1-0 pace, like the elite team that they are. The Sharks have not been as fortunate in the win column, but looked to put an end to that in the Music City.
Nashville put the pressure on San Jose early and earned the first power play opportunity of the evening when a ghost (or maybe teammate’s) stick hit P.K. Subban in the nose. After killing off their first penalty, the Sharks got their turn on the man advantage when Ryan Johansen held onto Joe Pavelski after Pavelski exited the penalty box. The Sharks’ first power play unit looked excellent right out of the gate, moving the puck around in superb fashion. Then the Sharks’ second power play unit decided to top the first unit’s fantastic performance by putting the puck in the net. Joonas Donskoi rifled a shot from the right wing dot and Timo Meier put home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
Roughly five minutes later, Marc-Edouard Vlasic let the puck get past him at the Predators’ blue line and it cost the Sharks dearly. Viktor Arvidsson was able to wheel around the stationary Vlasic, skated in alone on the goaltender, and put a tremendous deke on Martin Jones to even the score at one. The Sharks played well in the first, but trailed the Predators in both shots and shot attempts, as Nashville was able to muster a Corsi for percent of 62.5. San Jose was lucky to head to the dressing room with the score tied at one.
Continuing that performance 21 seconds into the second period, the Predators were able to take the lead after a great offensive zone faceoff win. Ryan Ellis threw a shot from the point that Ryan Johansen tipped towards the net, and Filip Forsberg was able to bang home the loose puck to make it 2-1 Predators. A garbage goal for sure, but one the Sharks would love to have back.
Later in the second, the Sharks responded by scoring in transition on a simply brilliant goal by Tomas Hertl.
Only three minutes later, Viktor Arvidsson found himself on another breakaway, but failed to beat Jones on the second try. Unfortunately, Filip Forsberg was able to collect the rebound and throw it back in front for Arvidsson to shoot again, and this time Arvidsson did not miss, giving the Predators another one-goal lead.
As the final seconds ticked away in the second, the Sharks threatened to take the momentum when Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson earned a shorthanded 2-on-1 opportunity. Goodrow ripped a shot off the post so hard, and so square, that it flew all the way to center ice, where Viktor Arvidsson collected the puck and dished it to Craig Smith, who scored with 14 seconds left to make the score 4-2 Nashville. Though the Sharks had outdone the Predators in the Corsi department by a total of 18-14, it looked like the Sharks were in for another long night.
Whatever Pete DeBoer said in the dressing room during the second intermission did wonders. The Sharks came out in the third flying, With less than ten minutes left in the game, (and the Sharks in desperate need of a morale boost) Brenden Dillon did the unthinkable. Shorthanded, Dillon went coast to coast, skated through the entire Predators defense, and put a ridiculous wrist shot under the arm of Saros to make it 4-3.
Less than a minute later, the Sharks made an aggressive rush deep into the Predators zone, with Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Evander Kane and...Justin Braun(?) jumping into the play. Couture made a sublime cross-ice pass from the left wing to Joe Pavelski’s tape, and the Captain did was able to put it away to tie the game.
Braun ➡️ Cap— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 24, 2018
We've got a tie game, folks. pic.twitter.com/ynexvsaY8I
In a game that had been fairly even up to that point, the Sharks had gained a ton of momentum, and spent a majority of the third period in the Nashville zone. With less than five minutes to go, Arvidsson caught Vlasic with a high-stick in the San Jose end, and the Sharks had one last man-advantage to try and complete the comeback. Two minutes later, as Arvidsson was just about ready to leave the sin bin, Erik Karlsson fed Brent Burns on the left wing side, where he smashed a one-timer past a helpless Saros. It was San Jose’s second power play goal of the evening on four chances, giving a great boost of confidence for Steve Spott’s power play crew.
The Predators pulled Saros with about two minutes left to try to send the game to overtime, but the Sharks held on to win the contest by a score of 5-4. The Sharks finished the third dominating the Predators in the Corsi category, with a whopping 70.6 Corsi for. The Sharks have their cornerstone win for the season, and it will be a big building block for the tough road ahead.