The Sharks and Predators went into Tuesday night’s game knowing it wouldn’t be easy for either team. After all, they do have two of the best defensive corps in hockey.
The Sharks got out to an incredibly early start, going up 3-0 against a seemingly lost Predators team, but this Nashville team doesn’t break easily. They stormed back in the second with three unanswered goals of their own, two off of blunders by Justin Braun, then took the lead in the third with a Rocco Grimaldi goal. But the Sharks staged a comeback of their own, with the Joes scoring less than 20 seconds apart. Thornton had the game winning goal, his 400th career goal, and the Sharks never looked back.
Tonight at SAP Center, it’s a battle of two of the best defenses in hockey...at least on paper. The Sharks (9-6-3, 3rd in the Pacific Division) versus the Nashville Predators (13-3-1, 1st in the Central Division).
For the Sharks, one win does not a turnaround make, but it’s a sign things could be heading in the right direction. The Sharks allowed the Calgary Flames to score just one goal on Sunday night and goalie Martin Jones was looking like he was in playoff mode. There were still defensive breakdowns (like the Erik Karlsson spill that led to Sean Monahan’s goal), but Jones stood tall which is what you want from your well paid starting goaltender.
In the first game of the season (Oct. 23) between these two teams, everything but defense was on display as the Sharks beat the Predators 5-4 in amazing comeback fashion. You’ll recall San Jose was down 4-2, but managed to score three goals in the final nine minutes of play to win it in regulation.
The Sharks faced Nashville’s backup goaltender Juuse Saros that game. Saros could play tonight as well, since starter Pekka Rinne lost to the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a shootout last night.
For the Sharks, the lineup is the same as it was in Sunday night’s win.
It’s the Preds that are going to have some trouble. The team will be without last game’s Shark killer Viktor Arvidsson who had 2 goals and an assist in that game. The young forward is back on IR according to our friends at On The Forecheck, who say Calle Jarnkrok did not play last night and may not play tonight either.
Where to Watch
The Sharks and Preds play tonight at 7:30 PT at SAP Center. If you can’t make the game, you can watch on NBCSCA or listen on 9.85 KFOX. If you can’t do either of those, you can always join us here on Fear the Fin, where we’ll be live blogging as best we can. We can’t promise a good game, but we can promise good coverage.
Sidenote: The Preds announced this afternoon that Nashville will be home to the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game.
What’s goin’ on, people? It’s your local ‘Cuda boy here, Bryan, with tonight’s liveblog. It’s an unusually chilly night in downtown SJ, but the action on the ice should be nothing but hot as the Sharks prepare to take on the top team in the league in the Nashville Predators. So let’s get on with it!
Pre-puck drop observations: I am pretty sure that I just saw a William Wrenn jersey in the opening sequence.
20:00- It’s time... DROP THE PUCK!
18:48- It’s always so good to see Couturetl and Meier together.
17:56- Hey, it’s Matt Irwin!
15:00- Sorensen sets up a good attempt for Thornton in front of Saros, but no dice.
14:51- THIS TIME, THERE IS DICE! SHAAAAAAARKS GOAL! Marcus Sorensen hangs on to the puck with two Predators chasing him and puts it past Saros for the Sharks’ first goal of the game!
13:29- We’ve got us a power play, Filip Forsberg is in the box.
12:55- SHAAAAAAAARKS GOAL! At first I thought Erik Karlsson got his much-needed first of the year, but it takes a deflection off Captain America’s stick! Either way, Sam Rosen voice it’s a power play goal, and the Sharks jump to an early 2-0 lead!
12:20- With that goal, Erik Karlsson gets his 400th career assist! I’m not sure, guys, but I think that might be good.
9:29- My goodness, the Sharks are absolutely HAMMERING the Predators right now.
8:17- Sorensen gets tripped. It’s time for a POWER PLAY!!!
8:00- Things I will never understand: trigonometry, quantum physics and how Zac Rinaldo is still playing in the NHL in 2018.
6:49- Sharks PP has been looking very solid to me tonight, but then again, that’s me using the Handy Dandy Eye Test. Either way, power play over.
5:41- Nice glove save from Jones.
4:55- Jusse Saros is showing why he’s the Preds’ goalie of the future- even facing a barrage of shot opportunities, he stands tall.
3:34- Sharks have the Predators absolutely pinned in their own zone. They’re gonna have to buy Saros dinner tomorrow night at this rate.
3:09- SHAAAAAAAARKS GOAL! SUUUUUUUUOMELA! Tremendous pressure from the Sharks forces Filip Forsberg to make a bad pass off the boards, and it takes a crazy bounce to Suomela’s stick and it’s 3-0, good guys!!!
2:15- This is possibly the best period of Sharks hockey I’ve watched in a long time. I don’t remember absolute dominance like this this early in a game before.
:40- Sorensen with a beautiful near-pass to Labanc that creates a great opportunity for Joe Thornton!
0:00- Time expires in the first. IT IS LOUD.
END OF FIRST: Sharks 3, Predators 0
That was an absolutely brilliant period of hockey. Nothing else needs to be said.
Per corsica.hockey, the Sharks had an xGF% of 91.78 in the opening frame. My word.
19:11- Yikes, Martin Jones tried to pull off the save he made on Tobias Rieder, but the Preds nearly put it in. Thank heavens for Joakim Ryan.
18:00- Nick BONINOBONINOBONINO is sent to the box for tripping. Third power play of the night coming right up!
17:20- Well, not for long, at least- Kevin Labanc is sent to the box for a hooking call.
15:12- Uh, what just happened there? Craig Smith puts a really soft one into the net and then slammed his stick. Preds do respond, and it’s 3-1.
Hold that thought- the play is under review.
It’s a good goal. Not a good one to give up for either Jones or the pair of Vlasic-Braun.
14:37- What a terrible turnover from Justin Braun, and Filip Forsberg puts it past Jones to make it 3-2. Yikesssssssss.
13:04- We’re near halfway through the second, and the Predators still don’t have double-digit shots.
10:00- And we have reached the halfway point. Clearly, Peter Laviolette has lit a fire under the Predators’... keisters, and we’re getting the game we expected now.
9:34- Would’ve been a nice zone entry for EK65 if Brenden Dillon hadn’t immediately taken an interference penalty. Seems like he tried to run a pick-and-roll.
7:20- We get a Dillon Orr sighting as he rushes deep into the zone straight out of the box.
On that same play, Ellis interferes with Dillon and is sent to the box.
5:38- We’re going to a quick 5-on-3! Predators take a bench minor for Too Much Man.
4:38- Remember how I was praising the power play a period ago? I am sad to report that it is Bad again.
2:08- Okay, that one was on Jones. Forsberg, with his second of the night, goes five-hole on Jones.
END OF SECOND: Sharks 3, Predators 3
Yikes yikes yikes yikes yikes. We got a dandy in SJ.
Oh, and Hertl may be injured again. He went down the tunnel and his condition is unknown. :(
Hopefully, things are going to sway back into the Sharks’ favor.
19:13- Kane misses the net. Arrrrrrrgh!
17:17- And the Predators have the lead. Blame this one on me, guys, when I do the liveblog bad things happen.
15:36- Labanc’s second penalty of the night is a hooking call. Murphy’s Law is officially in effect.
13:25- Great chance for Burns aaaaaand it’s shot right into Saros.
13:22- Nick Mullens is here.
10:00- Braun is not impressing me tonight, to say the least.
9:35- Jusse Saros. My goodness.
9:07- Oh no, they’re playing THAT goal song. You know the one, the one right after RRP2 and before Get Ready For This.
8:35- Martin Jones with an actually decent high-danger save!
6:55- SHAAAAAAARKS GOAL! The Captain delivers! Joe Pavelski gets a feed from Marcus Sorensen and puts it past Saros to tie the game!
6:42- I COULDN’T EVEN FINISH THAT SENTENCE BEFORE ANOTHER GOAL BUT JOE THORNTON HAS GOAL NUMBER 400!!!!!!! SHARKS TAKE THE LEAD OH MY GOD!!!!
4:28- Marcus Sorensen is my personal first star tonight- I know Joe scored his 400th, but he’s set up three of the five goals tonight, with a goal and two primary assists. What a game from him.
2:35- Jumbo is the 11th player in NHL history with 400 goals and 1,000 assists. But apparently Duncan Keith is better than him. #NHL100.5
1:00- One by Metallica is on and you bet I’m doing the Balfour Rage in my living room.
:5.7- Nashville with tremendous pressure right now.
FINAL: Sharks 5, Predators 4
SHAAAAAARKS WIN!!!!! WHAT A GAME! That was more of a roller coaster than anything at Great America can offer! I’m Bryan Del Fava, and I’d like to say thank you for talkin’ tonight’s game with me! Y’all have a blessed night!