The Nashville Predators are hoping a little home cooking will provide the necessary spark against the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports).
The Sharks lead the best-of-7 series 2-0. Nashville did not practice on Monday.
The Predators generated 39 shots in a 3-2 loss in Game 2 at SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday, but were unable to capitalize against Sharks rookie goaltender Martin Jones (37 saves). Jones is 6-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in seven games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I thought we were just as good as they were (in Game 2)," defenseman Mattias Ekholm told the Predators website. "Take out a lucky bounce in the end, [that's how] they scored the second goal, and that [was the difference]. I think we should be encouraged by the way we played. We just have to keep it going. There's two games at home for us now, and we've just got to reset and refocus."
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While returning to Bridgestone Arena is certainly a favorable proposition, the Predators are well aware that the Sharks had the most victories on the road in the NHL this season with 28. They also defeated the Los Angeles Kings in all three games at Staples Center during their the Western Conference First Round five-game series.
Nashville was 23-11-7 at Bridgestone Arena in the regular season and are 1-2 at home in the playoffs.
One key to success against the Sharks in Game 3 will be trying to remain out of the penalty box. The Sharks have the best power-play percentage (30.8) of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs. They went 5-of-21 against the Kings and are 3-of-5 against the Sharks.
The Predators went 8-of-9 against the Anaheim Ducks on home ice on the penalty kill in the first round. Nashville's penalty kill struggled early in 2015-16 but improved as the season progressed and finished 16th in the League.
"Now it's our time to kind of turn it upside down, do it the other way we did in the First Round, and hopefully we can take care of the home games," Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said. "Right now, we're down 2-0 and obviously we need a win. You try not to look at Games 3 and 4 , you just try to focus on Game 3. Just take it one game at a time and try to get that win. But if we play like [we did Sunday], I feel confident that we're going to get [a win]."
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In their seven-game series win against the Ducks, the Predators won the opening two games at Anaheim and lost three straight before winning Game 6 at Nashville and Game 7 at Anaheim.
Rinne, who has played well despite the lack of goal support, is 4-5 with a 2.48 GAA and .915 save percentage in nine playoff games. The Predators, who play an up-tempo style that creates more offensive opportunities under coach Peter Laviolette, have scored the fewest goals (18) of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs.
Laviolette is looking forward to seeing how his players respond on home ice in a tight spot.
"It'll be good to get back home," he said. "We've been on the road for a while here. I've said it before in different series, we have to pull the good things from [Sunday], take the confidence from that and look to be better in Game 3."