Matt Irwin had to think twice about his sense of direction on Saturday morning.
The Predators defenseman began his NHL career in San Jose with the Sharks, skating parts of three seasons with the club, starting in 2012. So when he entered SAP Center for the morning skate, a flood of memories came back in his first NHL home.
"You go right instead of left when you walk in the building," Irwin quipped. "But we got in the city yesterday and it brought back some good memories. I spent a lot of time in this organization, and they groomed me for what I was as a pro."
Undrafted, Irwin caught the eye of the Sharks when he was playing collegiately at UMass, attending development camp with the team and eventually earning a contract with the then-AHL affiliate in Worcester, Massachusetts.
"I worked my way up and had two-and-a-half good years in Worcester, learned from Roy Sommer and the coaching staff there and got my opportunity in the lockout year," Irwin said. "I got my feet wet in the League and hung on for two-and-a-half years here, some of the best years of my life."
As Irwin reminisces today, he and his teammates turn their attention to the Sharks, and although last season's playoff appearance is in the past, that doesn't mean the Preds won't use those memories for an extra jump as they hit the ice tonight.
"We'll definitely remember it a little bit," defenseman Roman Josi said. "Tonight is not going to be a playoff game, not the same thing, but there's definitely a lot of motivation. It's an important game for us; we want to get those two points."
The Preds have plenty to build off too, after a strong effort for the majority of their game against Los Angeles two nights before, and they'll look to put those elements together for a full 60 minutes tonight in the Shark Tank.
"We did some good things, especially through two periods," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Thursday's game. "I don't know if the tank went a little bit dry in the third period or if we made poor decisions with the puck; we didn't get it to an area where we needed to and where we could continue to use speed. The third period, I don't think was a great period for us, but through two periods, I liked what we did. We got a point, got out of there, look to build off of it and move on."