Battle of the Goaltenders
Both San Jose and Nashville pride themselves on attention to defensive responsibility. San Jose ranks second in the league, allowing just 2.39 goals per game. The Predators are eighth at 2.68 goals against per game. The teams also rank among the league leaders in shutouts; Nashville with a team-record 10 and San Jose with eight.
But goaltending has been a bigger story in the season series. More precisely Nashville’s goaltending. The Preds have averaged 45 saves in the two games they’ve earned points against the Sharks and 28 saves in their regulation loss.
The Sharks, who rank second in the league with 33.8 shots on goal, have been able to put a lot of pressure on opposing goaltenders this season. In the first three meetings between the teams this season, San Jose has recorded 57, 32, and 38 shots on goal. In the two meetings in San Jose, the Preds goaltending was up to the task, turning aside 90-of-95 shots for an impressive .947 save percentage. By comparison the Sharks netminders stopped 49-of-58 shots, .844 save percentage, and Nashville walked away with three out of a possible four points in the two games.
Dan Ellis stole two points for the Preds in the November 11 meeting with a franchise-record 54-save outing, including a highlight reel stop of Ryane Clowe as time expired in regulation and a breakaway save on Patrick Marleau 1:06 into the overtime period. Pekka Rinne
was similarly sharp last week at San Jose, highlighted by a third period sprawling pad save on Jonathan Cheechoo to keep the game tied.
In the first meeting at Sommet Center, Brian Boucher stopped 32-of-33 shots in net for San Jose, leading the Sharks to a 4-1 win. After a quiet first period, Boucher had to make 27 of his 32 saves in the last two frames as the Preds generated several quality scoring chances.