|Photo by John Russell
Predators Kimmo Timonen, Shea Weber
and Martin Erat
celebrate J.P. Dumont's goal that tied the game at 4-4 with 50.4 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Patrick Rissmiller scored 8:14 into double overtime to give the San Jose Sharks a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators in an epic Game 1 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series Wednesday night at Nashville Arena. San Jose leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 set for 7:00 p.m. Friday night in Nashville.
Wingers J.P. Dumont and Alexander Radulov each scored twice for the Predators, who played a fantastic game despite the final result. A few too many trips to the penalty box--especially in the first period--hampered Nashville's momentum, but the home team thrilled the sellout Nashville Arena crowd with an emotional and gritty performance. Defenseman Shea Weber added two assists.
With the score 4-4, the Predators passed a big test early in the second OT session when they had to kill off a hooking penalty called against team captain Kimmo Timonen just 26 seconds in. Nashville emerged unscathed after a string of five clears and a key block by defenseman Dan Hamhuis. After a near miss by Dumont at the other end, Nashville got another big play from Hamhuis 6:35 into the fifth period; Hamhuis dived and just got his stick on the puck to break up a one-on-one chance for Sharks captain Patrick Marleau.
Marleau ultimately set up Rissmiller's winner, though, slipping a pass through the Nashville defense to his breaking teammate, who wristed the puck past goaltender Tomas Vokoun to end the game. Just seconds earlier, Rissmiller had been drilled by Predators defenseman Marek Zidlicky with a clean open-ice hit in the neutral zone.
In the third, Dumont tipped home his second goal of the game with 50.4 seconds remaining to tie the game 4-4 and force overtime. The Predators trailed 4-2 before Radulov's second tally, a highlight-reel goal that came with 6:55 remaining in regulation, pulled Nashville within one goal. Despite a number of quality chances, neither team scored in the first 20-minute overtime session. Nashville's best came with over 13 minute gone, when Dumont led Jordin Tootoo with a pass to send him in alone against goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov stopped Tootoo's initial shot and laid flat on his back to cover the rebound beneath him.
In the second period, Radulov and Dumont scored 1:21 apart in the opening minutes to give the Predators a 2-1 lead, but San Jose tallied three times--including once during a 5-on-3 power play--to take the two-goal cushion into the second intermission.
Dumont's tying goal, which came with Vokoun on the bench for an extra attacker, was a point shot by defenseman Shea Weber that appeared to be going just wide before Dumont redirected it with a stick swing. The sold-out arena crowd erupted once the puck entered the net behind Nabokov.
Forward Martin Erat returned to the lineup for Nashville after missing 11 games with a knee injury and helped set the physical tone early. Erat, Peter Forsberg and Scott Hartnell were all delivering hits in the game's first few minutes. Hartnell was ejected at the 9:00 mark of the second after he collided with Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo at center ice and was tagged with a five-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game-misconduct. After laying on the ice for a couple of minutes, Cheechoo was helped to the dressing room and did not return. Craig Rivet scored the 5-on-3 goal for San Jose, which was set up when defenseman Greg Zanon was whistled for interference with 1:22 remaining in Hartnell's major.
Sharks defenseman Matt Carle got the lone goal of the first, during which the Predators were whistled for three penalties. The time San Jose spent on the power play contributed to a 14-6 shot advantage through 20 minutes. Nashville's only manpower advantage of that period came 56 seconds into the game, and although the first power-play shift looked sharp and earned an ovation from the crowd, the home side was unable to convert on the opportunity.
Nashville's penalty killers were a perfect 3-for-3 in Period 1, though Carle's goal came as a result of the Predators' first short-handed situation. As the final seconds of a cross-checking penalty to Zidlicky ticked off the clock, the Sharks got the puck to Carle in the left circle with a clear shooting lane toward Nashville starter Tomas Vokoun. Carle released a pass toward the front of the net and received a fortunate bounce off the skate of Predators blueliner Ryan Suter, who was facing Vokoun. The goal, which made it 1-0 at 7:18, came three seconds after Zidlicky's penalty expired.
NOTES: Predators forwards Vern Fiddler and Jerred Smithson, who each left Nashville's regular season finale early with injuries, were in the lineup for Nashville Wednesday.
PREDATORS HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
General game impressions
It's the first game...I think we'll bounce back. The longer the game goes, the better - I thought we really, especially in overtime, I thought we really had a lot of chances. I mean we could have finished it there.
On the Hartnell hit
I looked at it on film, I didn't see it live so I watched it on the replay in our video room and, you know, it was knee-on-knee. Did he stick his knee out? No, you can see it clearly and you can see his momentum was going forward. It's unfortunate when anybody gets hurt in the game but looking at it I thought it was a pretty clean hit. They did collide knee-on-knee but there was no sticking out of the knee - he (Hartnell) was going fully forward in terms of the momentum and you can see that clearly on a couple of the views.
On Vokoun's performance
I thought Vokey (Vokoun) was real good tonight. I mean in the first part of the game we took a lot of penalties. He had to be real good for us and he kept us alive.... Both goaltenders played very well tonight.
On the shifting momentum in the game
Early we took too many penalties and really took away some momentum. Early in the first period we took a couple and we got through that period just down a goal and then we really came out well in the second, got the momentum, then we took some penalties and took the momentum away. Our guys did a great job in the last seven minutes of really getting on San Jose and we got the 2 goals, we got the tying one with the goaltender pulled and I thought in the first overtime we had numerous outstanding chances. I thought we were real solid, just couldn't get one by Nabokov.
On Radulov's performance
Radulov, I thought he was outstanding. First playoff game, obviously the great move on the one goal - that was classic. He was real good, he was dangerous, he had numerous scoring chances, he could have finished it in the overtime. He had a great chance.
PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On battling back from a two-goal deficit
It was a good effort. Coming back in the playoffs from two goals down, it's a good effort. We played hard; both teams played hard. They were just a little bit lucky at the end.
On find his rhythm in the second and third period
One little thing can change everything. That's playoff hockey. Like I said, it's one game and it's a series, best of seven.
On it being tough to bounce back from a tough loss
No, not really. You have no choice this time of year or you're going to be out pretty soon. We lost one and you have to lose four to be out. So, we just have to come back Friday night and beat them.
PREDATORS RIGHT WING ALEXANDER RADULOV
On the game
We battled through. Of course, we're not happy about the loss in the second overtime, but I think we are a good team. It's all about the best of seven, not one game, so we just have to regroup and play more disciplined and not take a lot of penalties.
On bouncing back from a two-goal deficit
Everybody battled through and we're going to say no, we're always going to say yes and keep going, no matter what the score is.
On his play during the game
This is the best time for hockey. Everyone understands that in this room, of course. Just try harder and things will go well, but we still have to play better.
PREDATORS DEFENSEMAN SHEA WEBER
On coming back from a two-goal deficit and losing in double overtime
I think we can be positive from that. We know we can come back. They're a good team over there. So, it says some good things about us and we're going to come out with a good effort on Friday.
On the penalty calls in the game
I think that's one of the parts of the game we need to clean up. They have a good power-play and we want to stay out of the box as much as we can.
On Friday being a ‘must-win' game
You want to win all of them. Ever game is just as big, but you have to win four games. One step at a time, one shift at a time, and go from there.
On the play of Alexander Radulov
It's good for him. He had a lot of jump tonight and I thought it was one of the best games he's played yet.