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Game Three: Sharks vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game Three: San Jose Sharks vs. Nashville Predators (SJS Leads Series 2-0)
  8 P.M. (CT) | Bridgestone Arena
TV: USA | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Tennesse Lottery

The Nashville Predators return home tonight for Game Three of their Western Conference Round Two series with the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have a 2-0 series lead, thanks to two wins in California to start the best-of-seven set.

The Preds find themselves down, but not out in the series, still feeling confident in their play, especially in Game Two. The club is now hoping that same effort will lead to better results at Bridgestone Arena.

“There were some things we could’ve done better in Game One, but Game Two we got better and played more to our identity of what we expect from ourselves on the ice,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It just wasn’t meant to be, so we’re in a time of the year where wins matter. It’s not so much always about the process anymore, it’s just about getting the wins and putting them in the column, and we’ll work to do that [tonight].”

Nashville outshot San Jose 39-25 and scored a goal in the final five seconds of Game Two, but were unable to rally, falling to the Sharks 3-2 on Sunday night. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored his third goal of the playoffs and first of the series. He has points in two-straight games (1g-1a). Ryan Johansen posted his third goal of the postseason and second of the series. Both of his goals in the series have come within the final two minutes of the third period with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.

For the fourth time in Predators history, the team trails a playoff series 0-2 after the first two games of a series. The club lost the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals to Phoenix, and both the 2004 and 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals to Detroit. Since the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a team has lost both games of a series, both on the road, a total of 20 times. That team has come back to win the series five times (25 percent).

The Predators have not lost a game in regulation at Bridgestone Arena against the Sharks since Feb. 25, 2012, posting a 6-0-1 record in that span (all regular season). They have a combined 2-10 record in playoff games against San Jose, including a 2-4 record in Nashville.

NHL teams have come back from an 0-2 series deficit on 48-of-351 occasions, including two times against the San Jose Sharks. In 2006, San Jose won its first two games of its Western Conference Semifinal series against Edmonton, before dropping four-straight games to lose in six games. In 2014, the Los Angeles Kings came back from an 0-3 series deficit to defeat the Sharks in seven games. Nashville is looking to win its first series when down 0-2, having lost the previous three. The club has never gone down 0-3 in a series.

Through the first two games, Johansen (2g-1a) and Roman Josi (3a) co-lead the team in points with three apiece. Johansen's two goals against the Sharks are the most so far by a member of the Predators. Nashville is 1-for-5 on the power play (20 percent) and 2-of-5 on the penalty kill (60 percent).

Notes: Game Three is presented by the Tennessee Lottery. A plaza party presented by Lee Company begins at 5 p.m. (CT) tonight. Fans in attendance of the game will receive a rally towel (also courtesy of Fox 17) and a LED light-up bracelet. Doors to the arena will open at 6 p.m.

One Game For Now:

Before the Nashville Predators can look ahead to what’s still to come in their Round Two series with the San Jose Sharks, they’re focusing on the present. That means Game Three tonight against the Sharks at Bridgestone Arena, with a chance for the Preds to cut San Jose’s series lead in half, or give their opponent a stranglehold on the set.

“You just try and focus on the game tonight, and in the playoffs, you make sure you’re ready for the next game,” defenseman Roman Josi said after the team’s morning skate ahead of Game Three. “We’re confident, and it was a good practice [this morning]. Guys were loose out there, and the confidence is good in the room.”

The Preds went up 2-0 in their Round One series against the Anaheim Ducks, only to see their opponent win the next three. Nashville knows things are far from over, and they’ll look to put that belief in motion tonight.

“We learned a 2-0 series lead means nothing,” forward Colin Wilson said. “We went back and lost our next three, so it doesn’t matter how we win four games, as long as we get there. We like the way we stack up against them when we’re playing our game.

“I think we can raise it another level, but at the same time, we’re doing the right things. We’re playing fast and hard and we just didn’t get the bounces [in Game Two], so I think we’re going to look to play the same way.”

Past experiences, combined with a longstanding belief in the Nashville locker room, could lead to what the club is ultimately looking for. But they have to start with one win at a time.

“We need to win a hockey game, and we need to really just focus on this one game,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think there’s a lot of confidence in our room with our guys that we can win, and we can be successful.

“We have to get better. We’re not winning games, and wins are the most important thing this time of the year. But coming back home, taking some of those positives and trying to better from where we were is a step in the right direction.”

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