Four unanswered goals and another solid performance from their all-world goaltender led to a 4-1 victory in Game Three for the Nashville Predators over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result cut the San Jose series lead to 2-1 and forces a Game Five on Saturday night in California (9 p.m. CT on NBCSN).
Nashville built on what they did in a Game Two loss – a contest that brought plenty of confidence to the team despite the result – and bumped things up a notch back home.
“Our guys have played hard,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The only game that we look back on where we say that we weren’t on our toes and ready to jump was Game Three in the First Round, and that happens sometimes. You just don’t have the stuff. Game One we had it, and it was a tough break with the power-play goal that they scored. Their building kind of took over from there. Game Two, I liked the way we played, and Game Three, I liked the way we played. I think our guys are playing pretty good hockey right now.”
Patrick Marleau tallied the first goal of the contest at 13:13 of the opening stanza when he beat Pekka Rinne for a 1-0 lead that carried into the first intermission. But that was it from Rinne, who finished with 26 saves on the night.
After James Neal was high-sticked early in the second, the winger got revenge. Mattias Ekholm found Neal at the bottom of the right circle on the ensuing power play, and No. 18 in Gold one-timed a shot past Martin Jones to even the score and ignite the Bridgestone Arena crowd.
Then, it was the Captain’s turn. Weber pounced on a loose puck at the top of the San Jose slot and wired it past Jones for his third goal of the playoffs and a 2-1 Nashville lead. With the goal, Weber tied former Preds forward David Legwand for the most postseason goals in franchise history with 13.
Colin Wilson gave the Preds some insurance at 6:55 of the third period, when he got a fortuitous bounce off the end boards and slammed the puck into a yawning cage for a 3-1 lead. The second Preds power-play goal of the night came with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, as Filip Forsberg masterfully picked the top corner and sealed a Game Three victory for his club.
Nashville got the win they were looking for on Tuesday, and with that, an added boost of confidence to take into at least two more games.
“The biggest thing that can come might be frustration or mental block,” Weber said. “I think we made a good point to talk about it this morning. and it’s going to come. We’ve just got to keep doing the right things, getting men to the front of the net and it’s going to find a way in.”
A Lift from Siss:
A scary moment in the third period manifested into one final boost of energy on a night where the Nashville Predators fed off of their home crowd and buried their opponent.
Forward Colton Sissons gained the puck and skated toward the San Jose net on a partial break in the final frame, only to be taken down hard into the goal post. Sissons needed assistance leaving the ice, but much to the awe of his teammates, returned just a few moments later to provide another spark to his club on the way to victory.
While the initial moment was frightening for Sissons, he quickly realized his return was imminent.
“It was just in a lot of pain right away; it kind of wrapped around the post a little bit,” Sissons said. “It didn’t feel good right away, but it settled down and I was able to get back out there.”
Gif of the Game:
Filip Forsberg delivers a sensational wrister to give the Smashville faithful free Frostys.
Coach Laviolette on the special-teams battle:
“Special teams always factor into the series, there’s no question. Discipline and specialty teams are two huge factors. I said this after last game, I hated the result, but we played a pretty good hockey game. It’s about wins. I thought we played a good game tonight, and they played a good game tonight. I thought that their game was a little bit better than it was in Game Two, and it was good to get a win under our belt because right now that’s what it’s about - winning games.”
Pontus Aberg skated in Game Three for the Preds, making his NHL debut. The forward registered two hits in 8:27 of ice time.
“[Aberg], I thought, came in and gave us some good speed,” Laviolette said. “He was a good player for Milwaukee down the stretch. He brings speed and skill, and this is a fast game right now against San Jose. I thought he did a good job. I don’t think he had too many minutes, but I think, in saying that, it’s his first game in the National Hockey League. That can be a little bit overwhelming to come into our building with the energy that’s in here, it’s his first playoff game, and we’re down 0-2 in the series. That’s a big piece to bite off for him. I thought he did a really good job just using his speed and playing a good game, a smart game. You can see that he’s got speed and you can see that he’s got skill.”
Game Four presented by Nissan against the Preds and Sharks comes Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. CT. Game Five, which is now necessary, comes on Saturday night in San Jose, a 9 p.m. CT start.
The Predators notch four consecutive goals to take out the Sharks, handing San Jose their first road defeat since March 17.
Infographic: Shark Bait Ooh Haha