Another day, another playoff victory under the belt of Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala. After earning his first career playoff victory in Nashville Sunday night, the netminder matched his effort, plus more Tuesday night in front of the hometown fans when he led the Sharks to a 4-1 victory.
Although the Sharks out-shot the Predators 40-17 in Game 3, the 16 saves that Toskala made were huge. It wasn’t until there were five minutes left in the third period when the Sharks could stand back and breath a little bit after Jonathan Cheechoo gave Team Teal a two-goal lead, making every Nashville shot on goal a crucial one.
And it seemed as if every Nashville shot was a quality chance on goal. While the Sharks kept pressure on Chris Mason virtually the entire game, Toskala was the netminder who shined, as he made numerous highlight real saves.
Perhaps the biggest save of the game came with the score tied at one midway through the second period. Nashville headed down the ice on a two-on-one after a botched pass sent the Predators heading the other way. A last second pass to David Legwand left the winger with a wide open net, but Toskala slide to his left and made an unbelievable kick save, erupting the HP Pavilion crowd and dropping the jaws of everyone on the ice.
“That save in the second period was just ridiculous,” said Christian Ehrhoff, who notched three assists on the night. “He’s there for us when we need a big save from him. We tried to not give him many shots and I think we did a good job at that.”
“I think they had five shots in the first period and every single one of them was a pretty quality opportunity,” added Tom Preissing. “That one save in the second period on Legwand on the two-on-one, that was the save of the game. As far as I’m concerned that was a game changing save.”
The save even brought a smile to the netminders face when asked about it.
“It was a good save,” said Toskala. “They had a two-on-one off of a long pass. The guy had a pretty big boost there and I was able to get there soon enough to make the save.”
The Legwand save was not the only unreal save of the night, however, as Toskala managed to stone the Predator’s offense, only allowing one goal all game.
“It was a little bit of a harder game,” said Toskala. “I didn’t feel the puck as much as I had been feeling it in the first two games. I had a couple good saves in key situations and it gave me some confidence. Our players blocked so many shots today. It makes my job a lot easier when the guys are doing that.”
Toskala gives a lot of credit to the defensemen playing in front of him. After giving up four power play goals in Game 1 in Nashville, the Sharks tightened up their D in Game 2 and continued it in Game 3.
“Our defense and penalty killers have been blocking shots all three games,” added Toskala. “That’s one of the key things for us. It seems like there’s been so many penalties in these games, so your penalty killers really have to step up in these games.”
With the Sharks now leading the series 2-1, there’s no doubt that they will be looking for Toskala and the rest of the Sharks blueline to continue their outstanding play.