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A Late Nashville Goal Upends Sharks 4-3

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

Vesa Toskala and the Sharks returned to the site of the Finnish netminder’s first playoff series victory when Team Teal faced Nashville, but the results would not be the same as the home club pulled out a difficult 4-3win.

Click here to watch video highlights from tonight's game.

While offensive opportunities were limited in the opening five minutes, there was a scrap on the ice. Mark Bell and Shea Weber danced near the blueline, but neither player could land the big punch before heading to the penalty box.

Just like the previous night’s contest, the Sharks would strike first. Joe Thornton deftly eluded a hip check entering the offensive zone and skated down the wing with Bell driving the net. As he is known to due, Thornton placed a perfect pass to Bell that was knocked behind Tomas Vokoun for the early lead.

Nashville would respond with two tallies to take a first intermission lead with Alexander Radulov first evening the contest with a hard slapshot. Then, just as a five-on-three Predators power play expired, Scott Hartnell struck. Standing just to the side of Toskala, he one-timed a Marek Zidlicky pass upstairs for a second goal.

Team Teal would look to regroup at the intermission.

The game began to find more flow in the second as the action moved up and down the ice with few stops in play. Both clubs had multiple chances, but neither could add a goal in the first 10 minutes of the second.

The speed of Patrick Marleau created a two-on-one rush with Milan Michalek late in the stanza and almost tied the contest. On the play, Nashville’s defender slid down the middle and Marleau’s saucer pass over the blueliner didn’t quite settle in the right spot for Michalek to get off the slapshot.

On the ensuing shift, Nashville added to their lead. A simple centering pass created confusion in front of the crease. In the battle for the loose puck, Sharks nemesis Paul Kariya reached for it and poked it beyond the goal line.

San Jose would not wait for the intermission to regroup this time. A smooth pass at the blueline from Thornton found Steve Bernier on the half boards, who then passed just wide of the net where Milan Michalek was sitting alone. San Jose’s leading goal-scorer swept the puck in to close the gap to one after 40 minutes.

Thornton had a last second backhand effort that nearly tied it with two seconds remaining in the second, but Vokoun preserved the 3-2 lead.

A Thornton drive to the net early in the third, created a power play opportunity and it appeared that the contest was tied. Marleau drove the net with Vokoun making the initial save. As the puck lay loose in the crease, Thornton swooped down and knocked it in. The referee immediately waived off the tally saying he blew the whistle, and while the replay showed otherwise, the ruling on the ice stood as the call was not eligible to go to video review.

The Sharks started smelling blood in the water and, though that goal would not count, they continued the pressure and tied the contest. A spectacular drive up ice by Marc-Edouard Vlasic drew a penalty and the Sharks special teams came through. And again Thornton would have a hand in the play. His pass to Marleau out front was tipped up and over Vokoun and it dropped across the red line.

With the goal, momentum was favoring the Sharks in their effort to complete the rally and take the lead.

As the clock wound down to less than five minutes in regulation, Toskala made a strong save on Kariya and subsequent minor penalties opened up with ice with two minutes of four-on-four time.

During that segment, Toskala had just turned away a two-on-one rush, when Hartnell gathered the puck behind the net and banked it off the San Jose netminder for the game-winner.

Ron Wilson pulled Toskala for the extra attacker, but it was not to be for Team Teal on the night as Nashville finished off the 4-3 victory.

San Jose next faces the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in 2 p.m. faceoff. The game will be carried on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and

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