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5 Keys: Predators at Sharks, Game 2

Nashville refocusing mentally; San Jose's high-risk, high-reward opportunities

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators play Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series at SAP Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


The San Jose Sharks thrive on presence in the offensive zone and have shown the ability to generate a significant advantage in shot attempts.

In Game 1, the Sharks had 38 shots on goal and 79 total attempts. That is too high a total for the Predators to allow, even with an elite goalie like Pekka Rinne as a last line of defense.

"I think they are a team that throws a lot of pucks at the net," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They have defenseman that can really find the lanes and forwards that are really good at getting their sticks on pucks."

Laviolette said he believes the Predators can do a better job of closing down the shooting lanes and boxing out the San Jose forwards so they can't get into the high-danger areas around the goal.

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm1: Rinne shuts down Karlsson's breakaway


It is in Nashville's DNA to have its defensemen jump into the play to generate offense and it has worked all season long.

The Sharks found a way to exploit that aggressiveness in Game 1, counter-attacking on numerous occasions and getting four breakaways in those situations.

But, they know those situations can be high-risk, high-reward propositions.

"You just have to be smart; we know those opportunities are going to be there," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think on their end when you got a guy like Rinne back there, you can play that way. You are willing to give a little on the counterattack because you have a guy back there that is going to make a stop if you have a breakdown. That's their identity.


The Nashville Predators have not been on the ice since the end of Game 1 on Friday. They did not practice Saturday and opted not to take part in a morning skate Sunday with the early local start to the game.

The Predators had played eight games in 15 days.

They spent the past two days trying to refocus mentally and replenish their energy.

"You get to relax a little bit, but at the same time you keep your focus and your mind on hockey," Rinne said Saturday from the team hotel. "It's good to get a day off."

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm1: Hertl beats Rinne short side for PPG


Nashville liked the game it played for the first 40 minutes of Game 1, but many players felt they were undone by the momentum shift that accompanied the tying power-play goal by Tomas Hertl at 2:37 of the third period. The Sharks went ahead 2-1 nine minutes later and never looked back.

The Predators would like to do a better job of handling those inevitable pushes by the Sharks.

"The penalties we got, they got that momentum, that bit of life," said center Colin Wilson, referencing the two third-period penalties taken by the Predators, each of which resulted in a goal for the Sharks. "Throughout a game, throughout a series, momentum is going to switch. Unfortunately, they were able to get it at in in the third at a very costly time."


Nashville did not forecheck as aggressively or as efficiently as it would have liked in Game 1, particularly in the latter stages of the game.

The Predators need to be improve in that area in Game 2. It will allow them to spend more time in the attacking zone and limit San Jose's ability to transition to the attack and establish offensive-zone time of its own.

"We were getting in on the forecheck, getting our chances," Wilson said. "I think just playing a consistent 60-minute game with the energy that we typically have every game [will help]. We stack up well against any team when we do that."

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