The San Jose Sharks got a bounce late in regulation and came out of Game Two with a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night at SAP Center. The victory gives San Jose a 2-0 series lead, but all was not lost postgame for the Preds, as the club felt they improved their play in Game Two compared to the series opener.
“I thought we were just as good as they were tonight,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “Take out a lucky bounce in the end, [that’s how] they scored the second goal, and that [was the difference]. I think we should be encouraged by the way we played tonight; just keep it going. There’s two games at home for us now, and we’ve just got to reset and refocus.”
Goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Martin Jones kept the game scoreless through the first 38-plus minutes, until San Jose scored their third power-play goal of the series when Logan Couture banged in a loose puck in the crease for a 1-0 advantage headed into the third period.
After Rinne made a magnificent stop on a Sharks’ 2-on-1 break earlier in the frame, Colin Wilson found Ekholm in the high slot, where the defenseman wristed home his third marker of the postseason to get the Preds on the board. Wilson’s assist on the goal was his seventh point of the playoffs, a number that leads the team.
But with less than three minutes to play in regulation, the puck bounced right to the stick of Joe Pavelski who deposited it into the Nashville cage at the 17:20 mark. Joe Thornton added an empty-netter before Ryan Johansen got the Preds to within one with three seconds remaining, his second extra-attacker goal in as many games.
“I think everyone should feel encouraged in here; I think we played a great game,” Ekholm said. “We have to maybe convert a little bit more in front of the net and score a few more goals - we’re not going to win hockey games by scoring one goal or two goals, so that’s an area we can improve on, but [compared to the] last game, I thought we played a lot better tonight.”
After a better effort in Game Two, the Preds prepare to head home for Games Three and Four with a chance to even the series and pull a reverse of what happened in Round One against the Ducks.
“Now it’s our time to kind of turn it upside down, do it the other way we did in Round One, and hopefully we can take care of the home games,” Rinne said. “Right now, we’re down 2-0 and obviously we need a win… You try not to look at Games Three and Four, you just try to focus on
Game Three, just take it one game at a time and try to get that win. But if we play like that, I feel confident that we’re going to get [a win].”
“It’ll be good to get back home,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’ve been on the road for a while here again; I’ve said it before in different series, we have to pull the good things from tonight, take the confidence from that and look to be better in Game Three.”
Gif of the Game:
Roman Josi leaves Brent Burns in the dust as he pulls off an outside-inside move on the d-man.
Peter Laviolette on his team’s play in Game Two:
“We needed to get back to the way we were playing coming off that Game Seven [against Anaheim]. We had defended really hard, played a lot of defense, and then in Game One, we just didn’t seem to be quite ourselves. I thought tonight was probably the best game since Game Six, and we got going in a north direction into the offensive zone, cycling the puck, lots of chances from in tight, got good scoring chances… There were a lot of good things we did.”
Winger Craig Smith returned for Game Two after missing Game One with a lower-body injury. Smith skated 16:20 of ice time and led the team with seven shots on goal.
The series now heads to Nashville for Games Three (presented by Tennessee Lottery) and Four (presented by Nissan) at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. If necessary, Game Five comes Saturday in San Jose.
Both goaltenders are rewarded for their stellar play on Sunday night.
Infographic: A Bounce Short