The San Jose Sharks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Final after a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators in Game Five on Saturday night at SAP Center. The Sharks now lead the Round Two series 3-2, with an elimination Game Six coming Monday night in Nashville.
The home team struck first, and although the Preds tied the game, San Jose continued to push, something Nashville wasn’t able to overcome.
“We weren’t ready to go,” forward James Neal said. “They came out strong, good push, scored, but I thought we settled down a bit and got one back and started playing a little better. But not good enough out of our group.”
San Jose made it 1-0 when Patrick Marleau fired a shot past Pekka Rinne at the 10:47 mark of the opening period to give the Sharks a lead. Nashville responded, and Mike Fisher tallied his team-leading fifth of the postseason – and third in two games – when he beat Martin Jones at the side of the net to even things at 1-1. Neal and Colin Wilson assisted on the Fisher marker, the fifth consecutive goal scored by the line. Joe Pavelski finished off the first-period scoring to give the Sharks the lead at the end of one.
Logan Couture made it 3-1 less than a minute into the second stanza, while Pavelski got his second of the night on a power play in the period’s final minutes for a three-goal San Jose lead after two. Melker Karlsson recorded the fifth Sharks’ goal as time wound down in regulation.
The Preds are now on the brink of elimination, something they faced in Round One against Anaheim. Down 3-2 heading into Game Six, the Predators won in Nashville before taking a deciding Game Seven against the Ducks. Now, they have to do the same again.
“I think anytime you’re in playoff hockey, experiences that you gain, good and bad, you learn from them,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Just because we did something last round, we have to put the work in and make sure that we’re playing the game with the attitude that we need to be successful. We can take things from that, but we have to change our mindset here.”
“We’ve been in this position before; backs against the wall, and it usually brings out the best in people,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “It did last series, hopefully it does for us this time.”
Peter Laviolette on his team’s ability to bounce back:
“They’ll respond [in Game Six]. Our guys will respond.”
With an assist on Mike Fisher’s goal, Colin Wilson has a point in six-straight games, setting a Preds franchise record for points in consecutive playoff games. Joel Ward held the previous record at five games.
Center Mike Ribeiro returned to the lineup in Game Five after being scratched for the previous two contests. Pontus Aberg, who made his NHL debut in Game Three, did not play on Saturday.
Game Six is set for Monday night in Nashville, an 8 p.m. (CT) start. If necessary, Game Seven will be back in San Jose on Thursday.
The Sharks notch five goals on Saturday night, with all of them essentially coming within the face-off circles.
Infographic: Dropped in the Tank