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Sharks Hold Off Predators, 5-4

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

Looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2005-06 Western Conference Quarterfinals, the San Jose Sharks took to the ice Thursday night as they battled the Nashville Predators. Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau helped Team Teal accomplish just that as he registered his third career playoff hat trick, leading the Sharks to a 5-4 victory.

Another sold-out HP Pavilion crowd saw Vesa Toskala return to the net for the fourth consecutive game, while Chris Mason took the pipes once again for Nashville.

Action started early on in the contest when Alyn McCauley was sent to the penalty box just over two minutes in after he tripped Scott Hartnell. Nashville won the ensuing faceoff and immediately fired a slapshot on Toskala, but the netminder made his first big save of the night. Toskala followed that save up with another remarkable one just one minute later, helping keep the game scoreless. The Sharks managed to kill off the rest of the penalty as McCauley returned to the ice.

Seven minutes into the first the HP Pavilion crowd jumped to their feet when Patrick Rissmiller lit the lamp for his first career playoff goal. The big winger made an amazing play as he deflected a hard shot that was put on goal by rookie Matt Carle. The Sharks took the 1-0 lead.

Shortly after the tally, Christian Ehrhoff was whistled for interference, putting the Predators back on the power play. This penalty kill wouldn’t be as successful for Team Teal as Paul Kariya notched his first goal of the series when he passed a puck through the crease that deflected off Kyle McLaren and past Toskala. Midway through the first the score was all tied at one.

With seven minutes left in the first, the Sharks went on the power play for the first time after Mark Eaton was sent to the box for hooking Steve Bernier. The Sharks looked as if they managed to slip one past Mason, but after the refs reviewed the play, there was no conclusive evidence that the puck crossed the goal line, and the game remained tied as Eaton left the box.

The Sharks would get another crack at the power play with 1:31 left in the first when Scott Walker was called for interference. But with 25 seconds left in the opening frame, the sides evened up when Steve Bernier was called for a four minute high sticking penalty.

The first came to a close with the teams still tied at one and the Sharks out-shooting the Predators 12-9.

When play resumed, the Sharks had just over three minutes of Nashville power play time to kill off. But thanks to two quality saves by Toskala and some relentless penalty killing by the Sharks defense, San Jose was able to send the game back to five-a-side unharmed.

But six minutes into the second stanza, Shea Weber fired a slapshot that sailed past Toskala’s short side. The goal gave the Predators their first even strength goal of the series and a 2-1 lead.

Just one minute later, Weber was sent to the box for interference. This time the Sharks would take full advantage of the situation as Patrick Marleau notched his fourth goal of the series after deflecting a blistering slapshot off the stick of Christian Ehrhoff past Mason. The game was now tied at two.

The Sharks would receive yet another power play midway through the frame when David Legwand was penalized for holding Mark Smith. 46 seconds into the advantage, Brendan Witt was sent to the box for tripping and the Sharks had just over a minute of five-on-three time. It would take 36 seconds for them to convert as the Captain struck again. Marleau scored on another deflection, this time after receiving a pass in front from Joe Thornton. The Sharks earned their first lead of the night.

They wouldn’t stop there though. Right after Witt left the box, Smith extended the Sharks lead to two when he fired a slapshot from the point that slipped past Mason. San Jose now led 4-2.

With just under four minutes left in the second, Nashville went back on the power play when Milan Michalek was sent to the sin bin for hooking, but the Shark were able to fight off the penalty, keeping their two-goal lead intact.

Team Teal took a 4-2 lead into the locker room and were 20 minutes away from taking a 3-1 series lead over the Predators.

One minute and a half minutes into the third period Marleau was whistled for holding Nashville’s Steve Sullivan and the Sharks were on the penalty kill.

Just seconds after successfully killing their fifth penalty of the game Marleau took a pass from Bernier and scored his third goal of the game, giving him his third career playoff hat trick. The Sharks now led 5-2.

Nashville crawled back within two goals midway through the third when Mike Sillinger tipped in a pass from Kariya.

The Predators kept on the prowl, as they earned another power play when Hannan was whistled for hooking. But they didn’t get very long into the advantage before Martin Erat evened up the sides when he held Josh Gorges. Both penalties expired, however, without a scoring change.

But with 4:22 left in the contest, Nashville clawed their way within one goal when Hartnell found an opening five-hole on Toskala and buried a wrister past the netminder. The score was now 5-4, as the Sharks were hanging on to their once three-goal lead.

With one minute left in the game, the Predators pulled Mason in favor of an extra attacker. An eventful minute filled with plenty of heart stopping action expired without the Predators finding another goal. The Sharks skated off the ice with the 5-4 victory in hand and a 3-1 series lead.

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