Game Five: Nashville Predators vs. San Jose (Series Tied 2-2)
9 P.M. (CT) | SAP Center
TV: NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
After a thrilling, triple-overtime victory in Game Four, the Nashville Predators return to San Jose with a chance to take a 3-2 series lead over the Sharks tonight at the SAP Center. The Preds fell behind 0-2 in the series after dropping both games in San Jose, but won Games Three and Four back in Nashville, including Thursday's 4-3 win in triple OT, the longest game in franchise history.
The Predators are ready for the quick turnaround, however, and are preparing for San Jose's best tonight at the Shark Tank.
“We have to go in there knowing that we’re going into a tough place to play," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "They’re a good hockey team. The guys have a lot of confidence in what we do and how we play the game, but we have to go in there and do the work now.”
Mike Fisher’s score in Game Four's third overtime ended the longest game in Nashville Predators franchise history, ending at 1:03 a.m. (CT). The game lasted 111 minutes, 12 seconds and was the longest game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs (to date). Fisher notched his third and fourth goals of the playoffs with his two tallies. His winner in overtime was the second of his career. He scored the game-winner in the second overtime in Game Six of his Ottawa Senators series against the Toronto Maple Leafs (April 18, 2004).
Colin Wilson scored his fourth goal of the playoffs 41 seconds into the game. It was the third-fastest goal to start a playoff game in Nashville Predators franchise history. Wilson is currently on a five-game point streak, tying Joel Ward for the longest such streak in team history.
James Neal notched his fourth goal of the playoffs with his game-tying tally late in the third period. The team is 4-0 this postseason when he scores a goal. Five different Nashville Predators posted a multi-point game, including Ryan Ellis (2a), Fisher (2g), Mattias Ekholm (2a), Neal (1g-1a), and Wilson (1g-2a). Wilson's three-point night (1g-2a) marked a career high for the postseason.
Six different Nashville Predators are currently on a point streak: Neal (two games; 2g-1a), Fisher (four games; 3g-2a), Ekholm (four games; 1g-4a), Wilson (five games; 3g-4a), Ellis (two games; 0g-3a) and Roman Josi (four games; 5a).
The team improved their all-time playoff OT record to 3-7, with goaltender Pekka Rinne earning all three victories. Fisher became the third player in Nashville Predators history to score an overtime goal, joining Matt Halischuk and Jerred Smithson.
The contest on Thursday night was Laviolette's 22nd behind the bench during OT. He has an even 11-11 record in those contests. Laviolette won his first multi-OT game in five tries after posting losses in the four previous attempts. He lost in two overtime and three overtimes in last year's playoffs against Chicago, as well as in two overtimes in 2003 against Ottawa and two in 2006 against Montreal.
Wilson leads all Predators in points during this year's playoffs, posting 11 points (4g-7a) in 11 games. Wilson has 16 points (9g-7a) in his last 17 games and has matched the postseason franchise record for consecutive games with a point. Ward previously posted five-game point streaks in the playoffs on two occasions during the 2011 playoffs.
Wilson, Fisher and Neal share the team lead with four goals each, while Josi's eight assists are tops in the category. Weber, Ekholm and Ryan Johansen have found the back of the net three times in the postseason. Rinne is 6-5 in these playoffs with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
Brent Burns leads the Sharks in points with 13, while Joe Pavelski is tops in goals with six. Logan Couture is second on the club in points with 12; Pavelski has 10. Martin Jones is 6-3 in the postseason with a 2.32 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
Warning - Men at Rest:
After the Nashville Predators arrived at their hotel in San Jose around 5 p.m. local time yesterday, it's probably safe to assume many were turning it in for the night just a few hours later. It likely wasn’t difficult for most to shut their eyes either, considering they had played a game that required almost 112 minutes to complete not even a day earlier.
So as the Preds prepare for Game Five tonight against the Sharks at SAP Center, Nashville hopes to have their legs back under them after many - if not all players - set career highs for ice time in a single game in their 4-3, triple-overtime win.
“I had a lot [of sleep] last night,” center Ryan Johansen said after a team meeting on Saturday. “I got to bed really early, which was nice, but rest is so important, especially after nights like that. I’m looking forward to my nap today, too.”
Managing rest is always paramount at this time of the year. But since they started their current playoff run on April 15 in Anaheim, the Preds have played a game every other day. That’s 11 up to this point, plus a few flights from Nashville to California and back.
“We’ve just got to be smart and take it when we can,” center Mike Fisher said of getting enough rest. “We’ve played a lot of hockey, so hopefully we can make the most of it and just get energized and ready for a huge game tonight.”
The Predators have an opportunity to take the lead in the series for the first time with a win against the Sharks. It would be their first postseason victory ever in San Jose and would also give them three wins in a row for the first time in these playoffs.
“Both teams are in the same situation, and for us, we can use it as some confidence and some energy going into tonight knowing that we came off a huge win,” Johansen said. “It’s important to leave that behind us now; triple overtime doesn’t happen every night, so it was a very exciting night, but it’s just a 2-2 series now. It doesn’t mean anything, so it’s very important for us to just refocus and really try and execute our game plan to the best of our abilities again and have that focus for a good start.”
After dropping the first two of this series in San Jose, the Preds would prefer to end that losing trend in the Shark Tank. Plus, it doesn’t take a mathematician to realize if the club is going to advance any further, they’ll need to find a way to beat the Sharks in Silicon Valley.
“We knew they’re going to be fired up, so we’re just approaching it tonight as if we have to have our best, because we’re going to see their best,” Fisher said. “Momentum or not, I don’t think it’s going to matter tonight. It’s who’s going to be ready to play, and this is huge.”