Entering Friday night, the Sharks held a commanding 3-1 series lead against Nashville, and for the second consecutive season, closed out the series in Music City in Game 5. Captain Patrick Marleau
scored twice, including the game-winner, Ryane Clowe
added another and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots to secure the clinching victory via a 3-2 final.
From the opening faceoff, the Sharks dedicated themselves to dumping pucks in deep and establishing the forecheck. Posting a pair of shots in the game’s opening minute, the Sharks slanted the ice in their favor early.
Pressure by the Sharks in the Nashville zone neutralized the Predators attack until a fortuitous bounce nearly put the home team ahead. At 16:45, a simple dump in by the Predators forced Evgeni Nabokov to retrieve the puck behind the Sharks net.
As Nabokov went to move the puck up the boards to his left, Jerred Smithson stacked up against the dasher. The puck careened off Smithson and landed right in front of the Sharks cage. Jason Arnott gathered the puck and fired it at the Sharks net. A sprawling Nabokov distracted Arnott enough to force the forward’s shot wide and the game remained scoreless.
A boarding penalty by Peter Forsberg on Jonathan Cheechoo at 14:55 sent San Jose on the first power play of the evening. The Sharks had one shot on the ensuing power play, but Nashville was able to kill the advantage.
Just 1:16 after Forsberg’s penalty expired, the Sharks got on the scoreboard. A strong play along the half-boards by Marcel Goc sprung Steve Bernier in on Tomas Vokoun. Bernier dropped the top hand of his stick and attempted the one-handed wrap around. Bernier drew a penalty on the play, but before Nashville could touch up, Ryane Clowe
jammed home his third of the playoffs giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead.
Both teams had a handful of shots in the six minutes following Clowe’s goal, but neither team had a solid scoring chance.
With 1:24 to go in the first, Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton
both had golden chances to extend the Sharks lead. Milan Michalek found Cheechoo in the slot and the winger snapped a shot on net. Vokoun made a great left pad save, but kicked the rebound back to the slot. Thornton one-timed another shot and Vokoun made another save, this time with his right pad, keeping it a 1-0 game.
The Predators countered with a rush of their own just 10 seconds after Vokoun made two brilliant saves. But Nabokov matched Vokoun save-for-save and kept Nashville off the scoreboard.
The Sharks took the 1-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes of play.
A Scott Hartnell roughing penalty on Bill Guerin as time expired in the first gave San Jose a fresh two minutes on the power play to open the second. Kyle McLaren earned the best chance of the advantage when he was hit with a stretch pass at the Nashville blueline. McLaren’s initial shot and his rebound were both saved by Vokoun as the Nashville goaltender kept it a one-goal game.
At 16:54, Craig Rivet was sent off for roughing Scott Nichol. As Nichol moved over the Sharks blueline, Rivet simply shoved the winger to the ice, but roughed Nichol in the process and earned the minor.
Nashville needed just 41 seconds on the advantage before evening the game at 1-1. Nabokov made a standup save on a shot from the point, but Arnott jammed home the rebound.
Arnott’s goal gave the desperate Predators some life and just 29 seconds after tying the game, the Predators took a 2-1 lead. At 15:34, Vernon Fiddler scored his first of the playoffs and beat Nabokov five-hole. From behind the Sharks cage, Forsberg gathered a puck sent around the boards by Greg Zanon. He then made a tape-to-tape pass to Fiddler in the slot who snuck the puck under Nabokov.
Consecutive penalties by Alexander Radulov (holding Curtis Brown at 13:31) and Vokoun (slashing Bernier at 12:09) gave the Sharks a 38 second five-on-three advantage. But the Sharks struggles on the power play continued and San Jose was unable to cash in on Nashville’s penalties.
With 5:02 to play in the second, a one-on-one battle between Christian Ehrhoff and Nichol turned sour. Ehrhoff knocked down Nichol behind the net as the two battled, then again in front of the net. As the referees were about to call Ehrhoff for interference, Nichol speared the Sharks blueliner in the groin.
Nichol was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing while Ehrhoff still received two for interference. The result of the play was an ejection for Nichol and a three-minute power play for San Jose once Ehrhoff’s minor expired.
Operating on the power play, Captain Patrick Marleau
beat Vokoun and tied the game 2-2 with 2:14 to play in the second. Rivet moved the puck down low to Guerin. From Vokoun’s right, Guerin fired a cross-crease pass to Marleau who slammed the puck home.
By rule, the Sharks remained on the power play because they scored during Nichol’s major penalty. The Sharks threatened for the remaining 2:14 of the period, but after two periods of play the game was locked 2-2.
Each team earned a power play in the period’s first five minutes, but neither team was able to capitalize. McLaren (holding) was sent off 42 seconds into the third, and Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis (tripping) at 16:50, but the two sides remained even.
Some four-on-four play looked promising in the second half of the third, but a McLaren penalty game Nashville almost one and a half minutes of four-on-three team. They could not ask for much more of an opportunity and they controlled the offensive zone, but Nabokov would not break and the contest remained even.
With less than five to go, it looked like the second overtime game in Music City this series was on tap, but Ron Wilson had an ace up his sleeve. Actually two aces. He paired Thornton and Marleau for an extended shift. The two dominated, and when the Predators couldn't clear, Thornton set up behind the net. He drew the attention of two defenders, leaving Marleau unattended up front. When the centering pass came, Marleau wasted no time and buried it inside the far post for the 3-2 lead.
A crazy set of penalties with 24 seconds left gave Nashville a power play with their goalie pulled. Somehow Rivet was given a double minor for holding and roughing, while Forsberg was given two for roughing, taking two important players off the ice.
Curtis Brown killed off some valuable time battling for the draw, then the Sharks were able to clear the puck with eight seconds left, and Nashville did not have time for another attack as Team Teal closed out the victory.
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Marleau – Pavelski – Guerin
Rissmiller – Brown – Grier
Clowe – Goc – Bernier
Carle – Rivet
McLaren – Ehrhoff
Vlasic – Hannan
Nabokov – Toskala
San Jose will not know who their second round opening contest will be with or when it will take place as they will need to await the results of two other ongoing series.
|FINAL ||1 ||2 ||3 ||T |
| ||San Jose ||1 ||1 ||1 ||3 |
| ||Nashville ||0 ||2 ||0 ||2 || |
|SJS: ||CLOWE, R. (08:21 in 1st), MARLEAU, P. (PPG, 17:46 in 2nd), MARLEAU, P. (15:39 in 3rd) |
|NSH: ||ARNOTT, J. (PPG, 03:47 in 2nd), FIDDLER, V. (04:26 in 2nd) |