Photo by John Russell
Teammates congratulate defenseman Shea Weber on one of his two goals in Wednesday's 5-0 win.
The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-0 Wednesday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Defenseman Shea Weber, playing in his first game after missing three with a sore jaw, scored twice and goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 shots to record the shutout. J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat and David Legwand also tallied for the Predators.
With the victory, Nashville's record improves to 39-16-3 overall and 21-4-3 on home ice. The Predators maintain a one-point lead over the second-place Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division standings.
Nashville spent the majority of the opening 20 minutes on San Jose's half of the ice and chased starting goaltender Vesa Toskala after scoring on two of five shots. The Predators followed that strong period by outshooting San Jose 9 to 5 in the second.
Dumont opened the scoring after he blocked a Matthew Carle shot just inside the Nashville zone about six minutes into the contest, sending the puck caroming into the neutral zone. Dumont won the race to the loose disc and carried it down the left wing on a partial breakaway. As the nearest defender closed in on him he ripped a shot from the left face-off dot that beat Toskala to the far side. The goal, Dumont's 12th of the season, made it 1-0 at 6:22.
Weber intercepted an attempted clear by Toskala less than four minutes later, holding the puck in at the right point. Weber quickly teed up a shot that made its way through some traffic and past Toskala at 10:02. The goal put the Predators up 2-0 and sent Toskala to the bench in favor of goaltender Evgeny Nabokov.
Newcomer Vitaly Vishnevski was impressive for Nashville, delivering a number of hits and clearly agitating the Sharks early. With eight minutes remaining in the first period, the 6'2" defenseman pinched to deliver a check to Patrick Marleau. Marleau lost his stick in the collision but moved enough at the last moment to avoid the brunt of the hit. Still, Vishnevsky drew a reaction from San Jose's Mike Grier, who earned a four-minute penalty for crosschecking after repeatedly driving the shaft of his stick into the back of Vishnevsky's head. The Predators were unable to capitalize during the lengthy manpower advantage but did retain momentum heading into the first intermission.
The second period was relatively uneventful, with the teams trading two power-plays apiece and the Predators getting the better of the chances. Nashville killed off 53 seconds of a carryover penalty to start the third then extended the lead to 3-0 on the following shift. Erat cut to the middle on a rush and beat Nabokov at 1:13 with a shot as linemate Paul Kariya charged the net to set the screen. Weber made it 4-0 with his second of the night, taking a bounce off the right side wall and sending a harmless-looking wrister high into the far side of the net at 6:27. Legwand added an insurance goal at 12:29, deflecting a centering feed from Erat past Nabokov.
Next the Predators travel to St. Louis for a Friday night road match-up with the Blues at Scottrade Center. Game time is 7:00 p.m. CT. The team then returns home to face the Minnesota Wild at the GEC on Saturday. That tilts starts at 7:00 p.m. CT as well.
NOTES: J.P. Dumont, who had zero game-winning goals through 55 games played this season, now has two game-winners in the last three contests. His goal was his 300th career NHL point (133 goals and 167 assists in 492 games)... David Legwand reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time of his career and now has 99 career goals. He tied his career-high in points with 48. He has points in three straight games (2g-1a) and finished Wednesday's game with a +2 rating to improve to +28 for the season... Martin Erat posted a goal and an assist to reach a new career high in points with 50 (13g-37a)... Shea Weber scored two goals and became the ninth Predators player to reach the 10-goal mark... Tomas Vokoun stopped all 22 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of the season. The 22 shots against were the fewest since Dec. 14 vs. Ottawa, when the opposing shot total was also 22... Wednesday's shutout was the team's 10th of the season. Nashville has collected seven shutouts in the past 28 games... Dan Hamhuis registered an assist and now has two points (1g-1a) in his last two games... All five goals came during five-on-five play. The Predators have now outscored opponents 128-97 while skating five-on-five... The Predators outscored the Sharks 2-0 in the first period and have now outscored opponents 70-44 in the opening stanza... Nashville is 30-7-1 when scoring the game's first goal and 27-1-3 when leading after two periods... Forwards Scottie Upshall and Darcy Hordichuk were scratched from the Predators lineup.
NASHVILLE HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
On the overall game
"We were real disciplined. We kept our feet moving. We created a forecheck. We were efficient at getting the puck out. There was a lot of good things that we did tonight."
"We knew we had to come out with a lot of pace and a lot of discipline, and we did."
"I was real happy that we threw a lot of pucks at the net, and there was always people at the net."
"We did the right things for the good part of the 60 minutes. A real good effort by the guys."
On Vishnevski's debut
"I liked him today. He drew six minutes in penalties, he was physical...he was efficient getting the puck out."
On lineup adjustments for the game
"From a forward's side, it was easy tonight because we didn't take a lot of penalties."
"It was probably a little strange for the defense having seven for the first time."
On defending against San Jose's offensive weapons
"The biggest offensive weapon for them is the power play. Gotta give a lot of credit to Arnott against Thornton, and Leggy's line against Marleau's line for a good part of tonight. It was a real good group effort."
On Legwand's 20th goal of the season
"I'm really happy for David. I think he's played very, very well. He's one of those guys that's gotten better and he's matured, and he's a real solid player for us. He's finally got that 20-goal plateau, which they always bring up. That's history now."
PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On the game
We played a good game. We played from the first minute to the last minute, how we are supposed to play. Obviously, they were a little bit tired from playing last night, but we did our assignment, we played our system, and it showed. That's winning hockey. It was so much different than the game before and we just have to do it on a consistent basis. When it comes playoff time, it's automatic. We don't have to think about it. We just do it.
On the three-day break
We worked on some things, watched video... Like I said, the game against Los Angeles, we just didn't play good enough. It just goes to show, no matter who you play in this league, if you don't do the right things, not necessarily are you always going to lose, but you're setting yourself up for bad luck. It seems like some goals were good luck, but when you shoot the puck and you create screens, you fight for the rebounds and make it tough on the goalie, it's tough. If the shots stay around the perimeter, it's tough to score in this league. We did the right thing offensively and defensively today and we scored five goals.
PREDATORS DEFENSEMAN SHEA WEBER
On the game
We played a pretty solid game against a good team, but we can't dwell on that too much. We have to come out with a good effort on Friday.
On needing to win
Yeah, especially after losing that game to LA. We want to bounce back with a game against a good team and make sure we played well.
On Vitaly Vishnevski
He looked good. He played physical, he played strong for us. He's going to be a good addition.
On playing with seven defensemen
I think it was good. I think everyone stayed fresh and everyone did their job with their man. I don't know what were going to do from here, but we'll see.
PREDATORS RIGHT WING J.P. DUMONT
On not taking so many penalties
The past few games, we spent way too much time in the box. We have some good (penalty killers), but if you put them on the ice every three or four minutes, they're going to get tired and the guys that don't play on the (penalty kill), usually just stay on the bench and it's hard to get into it. Tonight was a perfect example of being able to play really hard and really physical, but we used our speed so we stayed disciplined.
On getting their 10th shutout of the year
Like I said before, we are a really fast team. When we use our speed and if we follow the plan, teams will have a hard time against us. It was proof tonight, keeping them to the outside, make sure we don't create too many turnovers, and stay out of the box. We did all that tonight and it was a big game from (Vokoun).
On playing a tough team like San Jose
The past few games, we didn't play the way we wanted to and we slacked off a little bit. Other teams caught us and that game was good for not just for everybody, but just for ourselves to show how good we are. If we don't play a solid game, it's not going to be easy. It was proved tonight, even with the lead in the third period, we wanted more and we just kept playing.
SHARKS FORWARD JOE THORNTON
On tonight's performance
"Obviously they started quick, we just never got our legs underneath us."
"We knew that they were a good team, we just ...we gave them the respect we needed to give. They were skating well tonight we just didn't get enough pucks and enough track at the net."
SHARKS FORWARD MIKE GRIER
On playing back to back games against a fast opponent
"We wanted to try to calm the game down the first 10 minutes. We knew they were going to come out hard."
"Once they got their first goal it kinda got us back on our heels and we didn't really get much of a forecheck there for the whole first period."
On the double minor
"They are our better players and our go-to players and that's that guy's job. Someone like him, that's what he does. He tries to get under guy's skin like that. .... The guys did a great job killing off that four minute penalty. But even after that we really couldn't get anything going after that."
SHARKS DEFENSEMAN SCOTT HANNAN
On the game
"We didn't play how we need to. We didn't move pucks quickly, we didn't get it into the forwards hands, had some turnovers at the blue line. We were sloppy all over the ice tonight."
SHARKS HEAD COACH RON WILSON
On losing tonight
"We're kinda victimized a little bit by the schedule and weather. We couldn't get Mathieu Darche into play... You're kinda trying to get through the game with 3 lines and by the halfway point in the game, and I thought we played relatively well for two periods, obviously they were a little fresher. To get down 2-0 the way we did on a couple mental errors, that doesn't help matters."
On pulling Toskala
"I didn't like some of the goals last night, and I didn't like the two goals again tonight. And I don't care if they are exact shots; in a game like this you are going to need saves."