Skip to main content

Instant analysis: Sharks at Predators, Game 3

Penalty kill, fan support help Nashville get first win

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

The Predators erased a lead for the first time in this series with goals from James Neal, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg.

San Jose leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

What we learned: Home ice is huge. The Predators looked like a different team in Game 3. They used the ability to dictate the line matchups on the ice and the momentum provided by their rollicking fans to find a way to stage a comeback against a San Jose team that held them to one even-strength goal in the first two games. At every stoppage, but particularly during TV timeouts, the fans stood and cheered for the Predators, providing an electric atmosphere.

Video: SJS@NSh, Gm3: Wilson bangs it in off the post

What this means for the Predators: They're alive. Though there was an attempt to paint a bright picture Tuesday morning, the Predators knew this was a must-win game if they had hopes of making this a series. And they played with the desperation of a team facing a season-defining game. In the crucial second period, Nashville held San Jose to nine shots, four in quick succession on a late power play for San Jose.

What this means for the Sharks: Not much. San Jose lost Game 3 in the last round, to the Los Angeles Kings, and responded with two straight wins to send the higher seed home. The only difference is Game 3 in the first round was in San Jose and this one was on the road. It is San Jose's first road loss since March 17. They were 3-0 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose could not generate their traditional volume of shots and had trouble getting its power play in a position to provide the momentum it did in the first two games.

Key moment: Nashville defenseman Barrett Jackman went off for a hooking penalty with 1:39 remaining in the second period with the Predators leading 2-1. San Jose was 3-of-5 on the power play in this series entering Game 3, so it was a dangerous time for the home team. The Sharks did manage four shots, but Predators right wing Miikka Salomaki had the best scoring chance on a breakaway after a turnover by San Jose center Joe Thornton. Nashville forwards Colton Sissons and Paul Gaustad each blocked a shot in the final 10 seconds.

Unsung player of the game: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm has been very good for a very long time this season, but it goes unnoticed playing in the shadows of elite defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi. It was hard to ignore Ekholm in Game 3; he played 24:35, including time on the power play and penalty kill. His pass for a one-timer by Neal on a second-period power was a thing of beauty.

What's next: Game 4 is here on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2). Can the Predators keep their home magic rolling and send the series back to San Jose tied 2-2?

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.