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Instant analysis: Predators at Sharks, Game 1

San Jose shakes off rust to take lead in second-round series

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Friday.

Nashville right wing Mike Fisher scored a power-play goal in the second period, ripping a wrist shot past Martin Jones after receiving a pass from center Ryan Johansen at 4:33 of the second period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead before the Sharks answered with a power-play goal from Thomas Hertl at 2:37 of the third period.

Joel Ward scored a beautiful goal, faking Predators goalie Pekka Rinne out of position and then tucking his shot inside the near post at 11:49. Center Logan Couture scored two late goals, one on the power play and one into an empty net.

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm1: Ward dances around Rinne for the lead

What we learned: The Sharks can finish games. In the first round against the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose led for long stretches and was able to dictate the terms. On Friday, the Predators scored first and the Sharks trailed for longer than they did in any game in the first round, but San Jose found another gear and took it to Nashville across the final two periods.

What this means for the Predators: Advantage squandered. They looked ready to spring a second straight Game 1 upset, but they allowed this one to get away from them in the third period. Not only would a win have taken home-ice advantage away from the Sharks and put San Jose in a series hole for the first time this postseason, but the team that won Game 1 in each of the eight first-round series was the team that advanced to the second round.

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm1: Johansen beats Jones with deflection

What this means for the Sharks: The rust is off. They had not played since last Friday and started much more slowly than they did in the series against the Kings. As the game progressed, the Sharks got stronger. They territorially dominated the last 25 minutes. After trailing in shots 11-10 after first period, San Jose outshot Nashville 27-19.

Key moment: On the shift after Ward scored the go-ahead goal, the Predators put their top line on the ice and it delivered pressure. But San Jose goalie Martin Jones responded with a pair of aggressive saves against left wing James Neal. Jones finished with 29 saves.

Unsung player of the game: Lost a bit in the late rally was the play of Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. Named a finalist for the Norris Trophy earlier Friday, Burns was the best player at both ends for the Sharks. He had an assist on each of the power-play goals and has 10 points in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.

What's next: The Sharks host the Predators in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). The Sharks will try to take a 2-0 lead for the second straight series.

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