For the second time in as many meetings, a Nashville forward was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for a cheap shot inflicted on a San Jose forward as the Predators defeated the Sharks, 5-2, on Friday night in Nashville. With the victory, the Predators tied the series 1-1.
Game Two began for San Jose against Nashville with Game One in the rearview mirror as the double-overtime victory would have no influence in Friday’s contest.
Goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Tomas Vokoun opposed each other across the ice while Jonathan Cheechoo participated in pregame warm-ups and stepped into the lineup in spite of the vicious hit by Scott Hartnell just two nights earlier.
The physical play opened right from the start and when Ryane Clowe
blasted Paul Kariya into the boards 40 seconds in, the battle was on. Bill Guerin and Vernon Fiddler were given matching minors for “civilized debate” before the next faceoff.
Nashville was a bit too worried about their physical play and neglected to play some basic defense early. Just 4:30 into the game, Peter Forsberg went to line Mark Bell up behind the play and the late hit drew a call. But the penalty was never issued as on the delay, Captain Patrick Marleau
set up Craig Rivet driving the net. Rivet’s initial shot was stopped, but he whacked at the rebound and roofed it for his second of the playoffs and the 1-0 lead.
While Rivet was quickly becoming a thorn in the side of Nashville, several minutes later Alexander Radulov was doing the same to San Jose. The rookie collected a loose rebound in front of Nabokov and lifted it home, tying the contest with his third tally in two games.
Halfway through the first, the score was tied at one and both clubs had fended off a power play.
Nashville took their first lead of the contest with four minutes left in the first. On the play, a puck squirted loose to the side of Nabokov after rebounding off the boards on a shot from the point. Marc-Edouard Vlasic
and Peter Forsberg battled for the puck, but it took a bounce in favor of Forsberg before Nabokov could get across the crease and he banged it in for the 2-1 Predators lead.
With 1:01 left in the first, the hostilities looked to be rising when matching minors were matched by matching roughing minors to Guerin and Hartnell.
Thornton almost created the tying tally late when he went to circle the net and Vokoun fell trying to reach the puck. When Thornton centered the puck out front, only a Nashville defenseman’s stick prevented Cheechoo from tying the game.
Not four minutes into the second, a dirty hit by the Predators forced a Sharks player out the game for the second time in as many meetings. This time it was Radulov who took a run at Bernier working the puck along the boards. The hit from behind sent Bernier’s face into the glass and left the big winger lying on the ice. The stretcher was called out, but Bernier left under the power of two teammates.
A five-minute major and a game misconduct was assessed to Radulov and the Sharks began the extended power play. The Sharks best opportunity came with two minutes left in the major when Thornton faked the shot along the faceoff dot and skated into the low slot. The move had Vokoun out of position, but a sliding Ryan Suter blocked the shot with the shaft of his stick.
The Predators were looking to kill of the final minute of the major when Suter was called for roughing, leading to one minute of five-on-three time. However, the home club not only killed off the two-man disadvantage, the struck shorthanded during Suter’s penalty. Dumont completed the two-on-one rush for the tally.
As the game moved into its second half of action, Marcel Goc (boarding) and Ryane Clowe
(roughing) were given simultaneous minors and Nashville had two minutes of five-on-three time. The penalty killers did a fantastic job with their efforts and held Nashville at bay for 1:56, but Dumont struck again, pushing the lead to 4-1. It could have been a four-goal lead, but Nabokov stoned Hartnell on a subsequent breakaway.
The Sharks would not be able to close the gap before the period ended and went to the locker room trailing 4-1 after 40 minutes.
San Jose would have to complete the game without Bernier, as he would not return from the Radulov check from behind. X-rays were taken of Bernier’s head and neck area. Coupled with the head-hunting hit by Hartnell on Cheechoo, it marked the second consecutive contest that a major penalty by Nashville had prematurely ended a Sharks forward’s night.
Team Teal would begin the third with Grier in the box for roughing at the second’s conclusion, but they would kill off that penalty.
Midway through the third, Nashville still had their three-goal lead, but then Clowe scored his first career postseason goal. Cheechoo started the play by skating past Vokoun for the puck and the Nashville netminder took himself out of position. Cheechoo then circled around and fed Clowe who slapped in the Sharks second goal.
When Fiddler was sprung on a power play breakaway, Nabokov charged out and made a diving poke-check to stop the scoring chance.
With 1:05 remaining, Forsberg sealed the game with an empty-net goal, his second of the game. The goal made it a 5-2 game and ended any thoughts of a comeback effort by the Sharks.
On the ensuing faceoff following the goal, Grier challenged Hartnell to a fight. Hartnell, who had run Cheechoo out of the game with an elbow to the head and a knee-to-knee blow in Game One, backed down from Grier, refusing to drop the gloves.
Clowe then came over and also challenged Hartnell who again refused to drop the gloves. True to his form, Hartnell let Jordin Tootoo fight for him as Clowe and Tootoo tangled. Clowe knocked down Tootoo three times in the scrap and was the clear winner of the scrap.
Away from the play, Scott Hannan squared off against Jerred Smithson with Hannan earning the decision in that scrap as well. Grier and Hartnell came together again while the linesmen were preoccupied with the other two fights and only after having his jersey ripped off by Grier did Hartnell drop the gloves. By that time, the linesmen intervened and the two teams were separated.
With the 5-2 victory, the Predators tied the series at 1-1, but the storyline was clearly centered around Radulov’s cheap shot on Bernier, the second Nashville cheap shot in as many games.
|FINAL ||1 ||2 ||3 ||T |
| ||San Jose ||1 ||0 ||1 ||2 |
| ||Nashville ||2 ||2 ||1 ||5 || |
|SJS: ||RIVET, C. (04:37 in 1st), CLOWE, R. (09:52 in 3rd) |
|NSH: ||RADULOV, A. (06:54 in 1st), FORSBERG, P. (15:56 in 1st), DUMONT, J. (SHG, 10:26 in 2nd), DUMONT, J. (PPG, 12:56 in 2nd), FORSBERG, P. (18:55 in 3rd) |