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Well-rested Sharks ready for Predators, Game 1

San Jose hasn't played in a week, doesn't expect letdown against Nashville

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

Game 1: PREDATORS at SHARKS

Western Conference Second Round

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators, who rode fast starts to series victories in the Western Conference First Round, will try to get the early advantage in their second-round series when they play Game 1 at SAP Center on Friday.

"First game's huge in any series, especially when you're the home team," Sharks forward Logan Couture said after San Jose's optional morning skate. "You want to get off to a good start in front of your home crowd."

The Shark took a 2-0 series lead on the road against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and won in five games. Nashville grabbed a 2-0 lead on the road against the Anaheim Ducks and won in seven games.

All eight teams that won Game 1 in the first round advanced to the second round.

"I think there's a lot of stats speaking on that behalf," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said of the importance of winning Game 1. "Even in history, in the past, that's been kind of the trend. But yeah, it is a big game and a big confidence and momentum changer and also for us it could mean taking back the home [ice] advantage. It is a big game."

The Sharks haven't played since beating Los Angeles 6-3 in Game 5 a week ago. Nashville didn't clinch its series until Wednesday with a 2-1 victory against the Ducks.

The Sharks are well-rested. The Predators are in full playoff mode. Which team has the advantage?

"I'm sure if they had some guys banged up they really enjoyed that time off to heal up their bodies," Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. "For our group in here, other than a couple guys banged up right now, we like that we're just getting right back out on the ice playing. I'm sure a bunch of guys on their side wish they didn't have the week off as well."

Sharks forward Joel Ward said the key for San Jose will be to "have good energy" from the outset of Game 1.

"Hopefully the [Shark] tank is rocking tonight and everyone's cheering and everyone's up on their feet and we just get some good energy to start the game and get everyone into it quickly and early," Ward said. "Just try to get out there and make a play to get into it early."

Here are the projected lineups:

PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Calle Jarnkrok - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson

Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Colton Sissons

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Barret Jackman - Anthony Bitetto

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Cody Bass (lower body)

Scratched: Petter Granberg, Eric Nystrom, Pontus Aberg, Gabriel Bourque

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Melker Karlsson

Nick Spaling - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Roman Polak - Brenden Dillon

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: None

Scratched: Dainius Zubrus, Micheal Haley, Dylan DeMelo, Matt Tennyson

Status report:  The Predators are expected to keep Forsberg on the top line with Johansen and Neal for the third straight game. Forsberg, who led Nashville with 64 points during the regular season, had been on the second line before trading places with Jarnkrok. Neal had 58 points, third most on the team. ... Second-line forward Craig Smith had a maintenance day and did not go on the ice for the morning skate. Smith left Game 3 against Los Angeles with a lower body injury and missed the next two games before returning for the final two. ... Nashville recalled forward Pontus Aberg from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. He had 25 goals and 40 points in 74 games for the Admirals. ... Jones will start his sixth straight playoff game for the Sharks. He went 4-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .912 save percentage against Los Angeles.

Who's hot: Pavelski has a two-game goal streak and led the Sharks with five goals in the first round. ... Burns had a team-high eight points in the first round with two goals and six assists. ... Weber has a four-game point streak and had five points (2-3-5) in the first round. ... Wilson had two goals and three assists in the first round.

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