San Jose began their second game in as many nights facing the NHL's lone remaining undefeated club in the Nashville Predators. Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson looked to right the ship as he shook up the lines for to start the contest and he received a strong game from his team, yet when the final horn sounded, Nashville had a 2-1 victory.
Alyn McCauley drew Nashville into the first power play of the game and San Jose had a strong chance on Tomas Vokoun, but the Nashville netminder thwarted the efforts. However, David Legwand took an immediate minor to follow and the Sharks were back on the advantage. Vokoun was again tested as San Jose crashed the net, but he kept Team Teal away from the net.
The first big test for Toskala was a one-on-one showdown with Scott Walker, but Toskala forced the play and gave Walker nothing to shootout.
An extended four-on-four situation occurred midway through the first, but the speed factor was limited by the fact that it was Marco Sturm and Paul Kariya in the penalty boxes.
San Jose was skating strong during the first period, but their efforts were being countered by Nashville. The host club had back-to-back penalties as the first period wound down. The first was killed off with Toskala coming up big.
During the second, Milan Michalek was sent to the box, forcing Toskala and the Sharks to kill off a five-on-three. Kariya nearly took the 1-0 lead when his shot trickled behind Toskala and was heading toward the goal line. Fortunately Toskala fell back and covered the puck and the ruling was no goal despite several minutes of review upstairs.
The first period would finish scoreless.
San Jose would kill off 30 seconds of Nashville power play time to start the stanza, but just as they killed that off, Nashville was whistled and San Jose had two minutes on the advantage. Another quick Predators penalty put San Jose on the five-on-three and Jonathan Cheechoo would provide the lead.
A perfectly executed shot from Preissing put the puck on net and when the loose shot was left out front, Cheechoo banged it into the empty net.
The goal happened prior to the first penalty expiring and just as play resumed, Scott Nichol gave San Jose 30 seconds of five-on-three. This time, it would be an offensive chance by Dan Hamhuis out of the box, but Toskala flashed the butterfly form and Hamhuis' shot was forced high.
A complete two minutes of five-on-three would result in Nashville evening the score. San Jose held off the offensive for 1:40 until Yanic Perreault finally solved Toskala.
Toskala would not be fazed as minutes later he stared down Kariya alone on the doorstep and turned away the former Anaheim nemeses.
After 40 minutes, San Jose was outshooting their hosts 24-18 and they were tied with the West's top club.
San Jose came out hungry in the third and continued their strong play. Marco Sturm lead a four-on-two break only to have Vokoun pull off the save on Wayne Primeau's shot.
The third period was going back and forth until Nashville struck with 8:29 left. A Legwand shot was saved by Toskala, but Scott Hartnell was there for the rebound and just like opening night, the Sharks would attempt to close a one goal gap in the third in Music City.
With 3:20 remaining, Marcel Goc wound up on a big shot that left Vokoun on the ice, but he would remain in the contest. Vokoun would rise to the occassion and stay in the game.
As the game approached its final minute, San Jose peppered Vokoun with shots. First Marleau, then Cheechoo, then Sturm, yet Vokoun would hold his ground as the Sharks pulled Toskala. The extra attacker would not matter as Nashville would maintain the lead and again defeat the Sharks by one goal
Former Sharks defenseman Gary Suter was in attendance to watch his former club, and more importantly for him, to watch his nephew Ryan skate for Nashville.
San Jose returns to the Bay Area in the middle of the trip before heading back out for a contest with Dallas on October 26. The game will be at 5:30 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com
San Jose will return to HP Pavilion for a rematch of the Western Conference Finals on October 29 when they host Calgary. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.