Predators bite into Sharks’ winning streak
HP PAVILION — We all have those days at work where nothing seems to happen until it’s just about time to punch your time card and go home.
And for the San Jose Sharks, that would pretty much sum up their Saturday night at the office.
Team Teal would put up a defensive fight late and wouldn’t put a notch on the scoreboard until in the third period against the visiting Nashville Predators. But despite a late game push, the ultimate result was a 2-1 defeat in a shootout.
Joe Thornton summed up the low-scoring, hard-fought match post-game:
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Center Joe Thornton
“They’re a lower-scoring (team). They play good defense with a great goaltender. You know, we had our chances. We just didn’t bear down. But good hard-fought game. You know, we played hard and obviously the penalty kill was big. We’ve got to be a little better on the power play. But, you know, just a good hard-fought game.”
The loss would bring an end to the Sharks’ winning streak, making them the last team in the league to have their perfect record tainted in this shortened 2013 NHL season. The 7-0 start had ben the best in Sharks history.
Head Coach Todd McLellan talked about the tight game and moving on to their next:
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan
“They played their tight-checking game. … We had trouble at times beating the forecheck, and then other times we got some flow in the game. it was one of those nights, a battle back and forth. Not a lot of goals, not a lot of chances. And obviously we’re disappointed that we couldn’t win in the shootout, but we move on now and start preparing for Anaheim.”
Neither team would score in the first period. The Sharks would outshoot the Predators 8-6, but go 0-for-2 on the power play. Thornton discussed the team’s need to polish up their performance with the man advantage:
“We’re just not crisp. It kind of goes like that. You get hot for three or four and then you slide for two or three, and then hopefully we get hot again. But we’ve just got to make plays and be patient, just keep shooting the puck.”
Fans would get excited during the second period when Ryane Clowe would seem to put the puck in the net. However the shot would miss the net and land just behind goaltender Pekka Rinne’s skate. Instead of tipping it in, Martin Havlat thought the puck went into the net and started celebrating. He tried to regroup but was unable to put the puck into the net on the rebound.
Clowe talked about the missed shot post-game:
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Forward Ryan Clowe
“I couldn’t really see it. I thought it went in. … After I shot it I couldn’t see it, I shot through a screen. It’s just one of those things, and that’s the way it’s going.”
The teams would battle hard to get their own offensive streaks started, but would head into the second intermission still scoreless. But the lack of scoring would end 59 seconds into the third period, as a soft goal from Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn would put the Predators on the board 1-0. It would be the first time in seven games that the Sharks would let the opposition score first.
The one-goal deficit would light a fire under San Jose’s offense. The Sharks took advantage of Nashville’s carelessness after they were whistled for too many men on theice. On the ensuing power play at 13:39, Scott Gomez would come from behind the net and feed the puck to Martin Havlat, who redeemed his earlier flub by backhanding the puck past Rinne to tie the game at 1-1.
For the third game in a row, the Sharks would play an extra five minutes.
San Jose would have a couple scares in overtime play. But Antti Niemi would mute the Predators’ assault, including a very impressive block with eight seconds left on the play clock that would rise the cheers of the sold-out HP Pavilion crowd to a deafening pitch.
The tie would remain, and for the third time in a week the Sharks would head into the shootout.
Nashville’s Craig Smith would score the only goal in the shootout, sealing the Sharks’ 2-1 loss:
Post-Game Audio: Predators Center Craig Smith
“It felt awesome. Everybody was going and it seemed like we had a lot of jump. We’re able to jump on some opportunities. We made it tough on their offensive guys to make plays. It was big.”
Coming off two straight wins, the Predators have a few days off before their next game in St. Louis and Smith says they’ll enjoy that time to watch the Super Bowl. But he wouldn’t say which team he was rooting for and took the safe route by saying he just wanted to see a good game.