Sharks top Predators, rumble into Round 2

It took more than two periods of pressure for the Sharks to crack Pekka Rinne’s padlock on the Nashville net, but the opposing goalie’s initial slip ultimately cascaded into a 5-3 win for San Jose and a 1-0 lead in the series.

After being shut out for 43 minutes — often thanks to impressive saves by the pliable Rinne — the Sharks netted their first score of the game during a power-play chance. Joel Ward’s patient passing allowed Tomas Hertl to whip a wrist shot into the goal’s upper corner from point-blank range, tying the game at 1-1 .

Head Coach Peter DeBoer said:

“I thought (Ward) was great from the drop of the puck tonight. Playing his old team, there’s some motivation there I’m sure. This is his time of year, he’s that kind of a player.”

Ward reaffirmed his reputation as a postseason force minutes after his assist, scoring the go-ahead goal as his former team reeled. On a night when Rinne’s positioning seemed impenetrable, Ward coaxed the net-tender into a sprawl by skating entirely past the crease before zig-zagging the puck across calculated slivers of ice and into the goal.

Logan Couture said:

“This is what he’s known for throughout his career, he shows up this time of year. That was a heck of a goal. Not too many guys can pull off a move like that. I thought he went too far, but he tricked us all.”

Logan Couture added another power-play score to put the game out of reach at 3-1, but the Predators crept back to within a goal after pulling Rinne from the ice. The Sharks responded with empty-netters from Couture and Tommy Wingles, cementing the final score at 5-2.

Joe Pavelski said:

“As the game went on we got better, we could kind of feel them on their heels. We were down by a goal, and we had to make a little push. We knew we could be patient, we just had to do it properly and play a little bit quicker.”

The Predators dispelled the recent perception of the team as power-play underachievers early on, opening the game’s scoring with a man-up goal in the second period. Nashville converted on just one of 26 power-play opportunities in their previous series against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Sharks continue their series in San Jose on Sunday before traveling to Nashville and attempting to continue their string of playoff road victories.