The Nashville Predators will be without the services of rookie forward Alexander Radulov when they take the ice for Game Three against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night at HP Pavilion. Radulov was issued a one-game suspension today by the NHL for his vicious hit from behind on Steve Bernier on Friday night.
Radulov’s hit marked the second time in as many games that a Predators player had been issued a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for an illegal hit on a Sharks player. Game One’s altercation featured a dangerous knee-to-knee and elbow to the head hit by Nashville forward Scott Hartnell on Jonathan Cheechoo.
While the Sharks made the Predators pay for Hartnell’s low blow during Game One, converting on the subsequent power play, they were unable to turn the same feat during Game Two following Radulov’s cheap shot. Not only did the Sharks fail to convert on Radulov’s penalty, but they surrendered a shorthanded goal by J.P. Dumont which would hold up as the eventual game winner.
After playing the first two games in Nashville, the two teams now shift to San Jose with the series knotted at 1-1. Despite the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding the series at this point, the Sharks are anxious to get back to playing hockey on Monday night.
“There’s a lot on the line for both teams,” said veteran forward Bill Guerin. “Things are heated, things are emotional, there’s a little controversy. It’s got everything for a great series.
“What happened at the end of [Game Two], that’s happened a million times at hockey games. There have been two bad hits on two of our players and sometimes those things happen. But our focus is on winning hockey games.”
Nashville Coach Barry Trotz, referring to the last minute of Game Two that saw three separate fights break out, charged that the Sharks were attempting to start a “street brawl.”
“This isn’t about vindication or beating somebody up,” said Sharks Coach Ron Wilson. “It’s about getting the job done when it counts and last night we failed on a five-on-three. The night before when they did it, we scored on a five-on-three. The bottom line is, the most intimidating player you have is your power play. It wasn’t effective last night and we need to fix that.”
Guerin, who was acquired at the trade deadline in order to provide veteran leadership in situations like these, echoed Wilson’s sentiments about keeping the game on the ice.
“Anybody can go out get revenge,” said Guerin. “That’s not hard to do. That’s not going to win you a playoff round. Winning a game will.”
Perhaps overshadowed by Game Two’s fisticuffs was the road split that the Sharks achieved by winning the Game One in Nashville. The Sharks now hold home ice advantage with three of the next five games slated at the Shark Tank in what is now a best-of-five series.
“We have home ice advantage,” said Wilson. “They have to come here and play now. I get the last change. [Nashville] had the last change last night. I didn’t put Ryane Clowe
on because Hartnell was on the ice.”
Although San Jose has seen two of their talented right wings knocked out of the first two games, Wilson is confident in the team’s depth and ability to play any brand of hockey.
“We’ve got Mark Smith, Rob Davison and Dougie Murray. If the physicality continues to escalate, we got people we can put in that make us even bigger. We’ll get the job done on the ice. I’ve got all the faith in the World in our team.”
CHEECHOO STILL DAY-TO-DAY
Jonathan Cheechoo spoke with reporters on Saturday about the status of the injury that knocked him out of Game One and still has him listed as day-to-day. Initially, it looked as though Joe Pavelski
would replace Cheechoo in the lineup, but after a productive morning skate on Friday, Cheechoo was cleared to play that night.
It didn’t hurt at the morning skate or during the afternoon after I skated,” said Cheechoo. “It felt fine in the warmup.”
Cheechoo’s courageous return was capped by an assist on Ryane Clowe
’s goal midway through the third that made it 4-2 and forced the Predators to continue playing. Despite losing a noticeable amount of mobility, Cheechoo was still able to get himself in position to assist on Clowe’s tally after nearly scoring himself.
“I can get by and make plays and get my shots off,” said Cheechoo. “That’s the most important thing, being able to get where I need to go. That’s all that really matters.”
Cheechoo and the rest of the Sharks have will surely benefit from the extra day off in between Games Two and Three. On the agenda: resting his leg.
“It’s a little sore, but that can be expected. It’s going to be fine. I can play with it. I don’t see any problems. [If it were the regular season], I probably would have thought about resting it. But at the same time if it didn’t feel that bad, I [might] have went. I like to play. I don’t like to sit out and watch. You kind of feel helpless when you sit out and watch anyway.”
HARTNELL’S MISCONDUCTS RESCINDED
The Canadian Press reported that both game misconducts assessed to Scott Hartnell for his role in the altercation during Game Two were rescinded by the NHL on Saturday. Hartnell, who also received a game misconduct for kneeing in Game One, was assessed one game misconduct for participating in a secondary altercation and another game misconduct for not properly tying down his jersey and having it pulled off in an altercation.
According to the Canadian Press, upon reviewing video of the incident, the League judged that Hartnell was involved in the primary altercation and that his jersey was properly tied down. If both game misconducts had not been rescinded, Hartnell would have been suspended for three games for accumulating three game misconducts during the playoffs.
WORCESTER SHARKS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH
The Worcester Sharks have clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth in their inaugural season. The Sharks will face either the Hartford Wolfpack or the Manchester Monarchs in the first round.
The Sharks have strong playoff experience on their roster. Defenseman Scott Ferguson reached the Finals in 1997 as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sharks leading scorer Mathieu Darche won the Calder Cup Trophy with Milwaukee in 2004, and Graham Mink led the Hershey Bears to the league title just last year.
Entering Saturday night’s contest against the Monarchs, the Worcester Sharks had won ten of their last twelve contests and enter the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest teams while playing their most consistent and entertaining stretch of hockey this season.
The series shifts to San Jose tied at 1-1. Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series is set for 7:00 PM, not the traditional 7:30 PM start. The game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition as well as KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.