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Preds down Sharks 5-2, even series

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Photo by John Russell
Predators penalty killers celebrate J.P. Dumont's short-handed tally that made it 3-1 and brought a deafening cheer from the sellout crowd

The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-2 Friday night in Game 2 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Nashville Arena. Alexander Radulov posted a goal and an assist before being ejected 4:44 into the second period for a hit from behind. Peter Forsberg registered two goals and an assist and J.P. Dumont also added a pair of tallies, including a short-handed marker seconds after Nashville killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 disadvantage.

The best-of-seven series is now tied 1-1 as it shifts to San Jose for games 3 and 4. Game 3 will take place Monday night at 9:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on FSN South and WGFX 104.5-FM. The win ensures that there will be a Game 5 played in Nashville on Friday, April 20. Game time will be 8:00 p.m. CT and tickets for that contest go on sale at 10:00 a.m. CT Saturday morning. Tickets to Game 5 can be ordered online, by calling 615-770-PUCK or visiting any Ticketmaster outlet.

The Predators overcame a 1-0 deficit in a hard-hitting and penalty-filled first period Friday, scoring twice on five shots. Just over two minutes after Sharks defenseman Craig Rivet gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at the 4:37 mark, Radulov evened the score. Vern Fiddler created the opportunity by outworking San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic as the two skated into the left corner of Nashville's zone. Fiddler centered the puck for Radulov, who was charging down the slot, and although the puck deflected off a San Jose player and slowed slightly, Radulov skated onto it and quickly lifted it past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

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Forsberg deposited a sharp-angle shot off a rebound of Marek Zidlicky's wide slapshot to make it 2-1 at 15:56. Just under five minutes into the second period, Radulov was slapped with a major penalty for checking from behind as well as a game misconduct when he put a shoulder into Sharks forward Steve Bernier along the boards. Bernier fell and lay on the ice for a couple of minutes before being assisted by the San Jose training staff. A stretcher was brought onto the ice but was ultimately not needed. Bernier did not return.

Dumont added two goals in the second period to open a 4-1 lead. His first came short-handed, shortly after the Predators had killed off 3:59 of a one-man disadvantage and 1:01 of being two men down. With 17 seconds remaining on a roughing penalty against Ryan Suter, Dumont converted on a 2-on-1 rush that began when he outmuscled a Sharks player for the puck in Nashville's zone. The sellout Nashville Arena crowd, already electric as a result of the Predators' superb penalty-killing efforts, erupted into a deafening roar when Dumont's shot from the right face-off dot beat Nabokov to the short side.

Sharks forwards Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier engage Predators forward Scott Hartnell
Photo by John Russell
San Jose forwards Ryane Clowe (right) and Mike Grier double-team Nashville's Scott Hartnell on the face-off following an empty-net goal that effectively put the game out of reach for the Sharks.

Dumont's second came exactly 2:30 later, this time with the Predators enjoying a 5-on-3 power play. San Jose forwards Ryane Clowe and Marcel Goc were whistled for roughing and cross-checking, respectively, at 11:00, and Nashville eventually strung together a pretty passing play that saw the puck go from Paul Kariya to Zidlicky to Dumont. Nabokov was far out of position and Dumont had time to settle the puck before firing it into the back of a mostly open net at 12:56.

Clowe shoveled home a rebound on Tomas Vokoun's doorstep to cut the margin to 4-2 at 9:52 of the third. Forsberg added an empty-netter at 18:55 to make it 5-2, then Clowe and Mike Grier went after Scott Hartnell--who drew the ire of San Jose when he collided with and injured Jonathan Cheechoo in Game 1--on the ensuing center-ice face-off. Jordin Tootoo skated in to even up the odds, and Tootoo and Clowe broke into fisticuffs. Grier and Hartnell and Jerred Smithson and Scott Hannan also fought. All six players were given fighting majors at the 19:00 mark, and game misconducts were handed to all but Clowe, who instead received a roughing minor. Hartnell received a second game misconduct penalty as well. The NHL's senior VP of hockey operation, Mike Murphy, said in a statement Friday night, "[NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations] Colin Campbell is presently looking at the incidents at the end of the game and the game misconduct penalties are being reviewed." No decisions or announcements from the league were expected before Saturday.

The physical tone was set early when Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis delivered a crunching hit on Sharks center Marcel Goc 30 seconds into the game. A dust-up followed in front of the Nashville bench, and both clubs changed lines before the following face-off. San Jose forward Bill Guerin skated in front of the Predators bench and said a few words before lining up against Vern Fiddler, who tried to continue the discussion. A linesman separated the two but jousting continued after he moved in to the face-off dot to drop the puck. Eventually both Fiddler and Guerin were sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct as the officials tried to calm the proceedings.

NOTES: The Predators set a new franchise record for goals scored in a playoff game, breaking the previous record of four, which was tied in Game 1... Nashville's penalty killers were a perfect 5-for-5 against San Jose's power play Friday and have killed 11 of 12 opportunities through two games... J.P. Dumont scored Nashville's third all-time short-handed playoff goal Friday. Dumont has four goals in two games this series and has already set a new franchise mark for goals scored in a playoff series. He has surpassed the previous record of 2... There were a total of 184 penalty minutes doled out in Game 2, demolishing Nashville's existing franchise record for penalty minutes by both teams in a playoff game (48, set on April 23, 2006 vs. the Sharks)... The Predators beat goaltender Evgeni Nabokov four times on 21 shots and added an empty netter... Alexander Radulov scored a goal and an assist and has 4 points (3g-1a) in two career NHL playoff games. He has already surpassed Shea Weber's records for goals and points by a rookie in a playoff series... Martin Erat led the Predators with four hits... Peter Forsberg is a +4 through two games. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky was +2 Friday after posting a -2 plus/minus rating Wednesday... Vitaly Vishnevski, Darcy Hordichuk and Steve Sullivan were scratched for Nashville.

Post-Game Comments

On the game being a desperation situation
Obviously, we felt that we could have had better fate in game one. You want to leave here at least even. We did. That was an important game for us, no question. You don't want to go down two, it's not the absolute end of the world, but in a sense, it was a big game. No question.  They're all big games. I can't think of any playoff game that is not a big game.

On the penalty-kill
The penalty-killers did an outstanding job against (the Sharks) tonight. We killed off some important penalties; the 5-on-3, the five minute major. The penalty-killers, the guys like Legwand, Smithson, Nichol, Fiddler, J.P. Dumont, and the guys on the back end the Zanon's and the Hamhuis' did an excellent job. We got a little fortunate that one time Thornton came out of the corner, I think it was on the 5-on-3, Suter went out and blocked it, went of the stick. That was huge for us. We had great goaltending. You're going to get all those elements, not only we're they good, but we have to be a little bit lucky and we had great goaltending. They were outstanding tonight.

On Radulov's hit
He was just going in and hits, I think its Bernier, just on the inside of the number six. Bernier hit his head on the glass a little bit. Rads isn't a dirty player, he had 26 penalty minutes. He's a goal scorer. They were targeting him all night. Rad is probably the least dirty player we've got. You just try to finish a check and create a loose puck. The league will look at it and I trust all the judgments the league makes. They look at it, they make all those decisions, so whatever happens there, that's where we'll be at.

On the mood of the team:
"Now it's going to be a best of five.  We have to make sure we come up strong out there.  Especially when we have to go out there to San Jose they are going to come up strong.  They are going to have their fans behind them so we have to make sure we are ready for those games

On the team defending Scott Hartnell:
It's been like that all year long.  The chemistry of this team is unbelievable.  Everybody is going to be there for each other and we proved it again tonight.  That is what makes us a good team we play with emotion and we know our team is going to be there for us.

On the referees:
We have to control what we can control.  They have to look at the game from the point of view to record every little detail.  It's going to be like that every game of the playoff s so we have to make sure we control ourselves.

On his approach:
We have to look at it one game.  You can't look any further.  It's going to be tough going down there.  They are going to have their crowd and it's going to be a little tougher than here.  We definitely have to play better than we did today if we are going to beat them down there.

On the rivalry with San Jose:
It's definitely physical but it's the playoffs and you got to get use to it.  You got to want to be out there and be in the heat of it.  I thought we did a good job.  We took way too many penalties again.

On sense of desperation:
We knew it was a huge game for us.  We had to win this to get back into the series.  It would be tough going down there 2-0.  Now we just have to look forward to the next game Monday. 

On what happened during the play he got the misconduct penalty:
It happened so quickly.  I kind of saw him before he was facing me.  After the guy in front of me moved I couldn't see and I kind of hit him.  I don't want to get him hurt.  I just feel bad about that."

On the physical nature of the series:
"They want to be physical and we want to be physical too.  Everyone has to play careful.  I didn't mean to hit him hard and I didn't mean to hurt him it just happened."

On the penalty
"I think it was a penalty but I don't know if it was a game misconduct.  I don't think that I hit him from behind. I hit him for his shoulder. I watched the replay and I hit him in the shoulder."

On his fight at the end of the game
"I just went out. I was going to ask him, I wasn't going to sucker punch him, and I was going to ask him straight up. (Scott Hartnell) said he was open to retaliation, so I wasn't going to try and do anything dirty, I was just going to ask straight up. I'm sure he knows what he did, obviously, just common sense that somebody is going to stand up for your teammate, and that's what I did. We stuck together and that's the main thing."

On losing the game
"We're tied at 1-1 and we're back on home ice. It's not that bad."

On Radulov's hit on Bernier
"I didn't see it, so I don't know. But, obviously, (Bernier) was knocked out. He's a big kid, he doesn't go down too easy. So, we'll have to see."

On the league thinking teams should play that way
"I hope not. I think Colin Campbell has a job and his job is to review these plays. I'm sure if he wants us to play this way, we can play this way. It's in his hands and we'll see what happens."

On the Predators' shorthanded goal
"It's tough. Especially, when we had a couple glorious chances to tie it at 2-2. We just misfired. We never felt like we were out of the game. We had some great chances, we just didn't bare down tonight."

On taking the first game against the Predators but losing the second
"You want to come in here and get at least a split. We had a good chance to make it 2-0, but obviously it didn't work out. Good news is we go home; we have a good chance to play in front of our fans. I'm sure they're excited to see us again."

On the Predators scoring the shorthanded goal
"I think we're not doing what we want to do on the power-play. On that whole thing, we didn't get down and do what we wanted to do. 5-on-5 or on the power-play, we didn't get it deep, we didn't get our fore-check going, we were backing off the blue(line). We have to come back strong. We came in here, we stole one game on their home ice here. That kind of what you plan on going ahead. We stole the first one, we definitely wanted to come out strong during the second game, but we didn't do that. That team has to win four and now we have home ice.


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