A quick glance at the score of Game One – a 5-2 victory for the San Jose Sharks over the Nashville Predators – makes things look a lot worse than they actually were on Friday night in the opening contest of the Second Round series between the two clubs.
Two empty-net goals, and two more on the power play in the third period gave the Sharks all they needed to take Game One, but the Preds held a 1-0 lead through the first 40 minutes. It’s that fact which helps to give the team reason optimism as they prepare for Game Two.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his team weren’t making excuses for a lack of rest during a Saturday off in San Jose, but did recognize it was important to leave the sticks and skates in the locker room for a day.
“We chose to stay away from the rink to try and find as much energy as we can,” Laviolette said. “I felt like it played into [our play in the third period] a little bit. I’m not trying to make excuses, but we’re trying to re-energize our guys and try and find the juice that we need for tomorrow night’s game.”
The Preds used Saturday to hold meetings and analyze video on what they liked about Game One and what could be better. The fact Nashville has now played the Sharks, as opposed to scouting from afar, will help in that process.
“Part of getting to know your opponent is getting through a game,” Laviolette said. “We’ve done some things against them, and they’ve done some things against us. Now you can go back and look at the game as opposed to what we were doing against Anaheim or what they were doing against L.A., or a game back in game No. 68 or game No. 42. We’ll look to make adjustments and improvements and get better.”
An area the Preds felt was a strong one for them was their five-on-five play against the Sharks. Combine that with the ability of their goaltender in the crease, and Nashville feels they can find ways to rebound in Game Two.
“I liked our game five-on-five; I think both teams exchanged chances, we held the lead there for a while and let it slip away, but for the most part, I thought our five-on-five was good,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “They might’ve had a bit more jump than us throughout the game, but for the most part, I liked our game and I thought [Pekka Rinne] played really well for us.”
After giving up one goal each in Games Six and Seven of Round One, Rinne surrendered three in Game One versus the Sharks, but that hasn’t changed things for the veteran netminder. His team feels the same way.
“I’m feeling confident, feeling good and having so much fun right now,” Rinne said. “It’s just the best time of the year. You can feel it, and I’m feeling really good.”