SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round series at SAP Center on Sunday.
San Jose leads the best-of-7 series, 2-0.
Center Joe Pavelski scored the tie-breaking goal at 17:20 of the third period. It was his sixth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead. Center Logan Couture scored the first goal, putting home the rebound of a slap shot by defenseman Brent Burns that had been redirected by Pavelski. Mattias Ekholm scored for Nashville midway through the third period to tie the game at 1-1. Joe Thornton's empty-net goal with 56 seconds remaining in the third turned out to be the game winner because Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators with less than four seconds remaining.
San Jose is 3-for-5 on the power play in this series.
Video: NSH@SJS, GM2: Couture bangs home rebound in front
What we learned: The Sharks can win a game in many ways, but their power play usually is at the top of the list. On Sunday, the Predators played a far better defensive game, taking away the time and space that the Sharks enjoyed in the first game. The Sharks let their lower-line players deliver more of the chances before cashing in on their second power-play opportunity. Once they took a 1-0 lead, they played a suffocating defensive game and relied on strong goaltending from Martin Jones, who has been under-the-radar strong in the first seven playoff games.
What this means for the Predators: Trouble. Nashville is not built to come from behind, in games or series. The Predators are built to get ahead and hold on. They won't be able to do that now and likely will have to break out of their defense-first shell, leaving themselves open to the Sharks' dangerous counter-attack. The margin for error is razor thin for Nashville.
What this means for the Sharks: Confidence. San Jose is now 6-1 in the postseason and has started to win at home (three wins in four games), which was their challenge during the regular season. They have no fear of going to Nashville; the Sharks are 3-0 on the road this postseason and were 28-10-3 away from SAP Center in the regular season. In addition, they have held Nashville to four goals in this series, two at even strength.
Key moment: Thirty-three seconds before Couture scored the game's first goal, Predators defenseman Roman Josi was heading to the bench when he saw that there were six skaters on the ice. He tried to bail out but was at the wrong bench, pulling himself onto the dasher board in front of the Sharks bench. The officials noticed the infraction and the Predators were penalized for the second time during the game. Couture scored on the ensuing power play.
Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Josi jumps into the Sharks' bench
Unsung player of the game: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The man known as "Pickles" in the Sharks dressing room was everywhere. With the Predators doing a much better job of contesting the ability of Burns to get his shots through, Vlasic became the trigger man for much of the Sharks attack. He also played a physical game in his own end and blocked four shots, including a slap shot from Predators defenseman Shea Weber with his visor.
What's next: The Predators host the Sharks in Game 3 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports). Can the Predators find a way back at Bridgestone Arena, where they are 1-2 this postseason, against a very good road team?