It’s easy to tell who was the number one star in Thursday night’s 5-4 Sharks victory over the Nashville Predators . Patrick Marleau
proved why he is the team’s captain when he recorded his third career playoff hat trick in leading the Sharks to their third consecutive victory. But there were other players that played huge roles in the game that should not go unnoticed.
Patrick Rissmiller started the scoring for Team Teal when he made an unbelievable tip in off of a Matt Carle wrist shot. For Rissmiller, it was his first career playoff goal. Not only did the rookie score, he also provided solid play along the boards while working on a line with Marcel Goc and Ville Nieminen.
“We were a little sloppy in the first and we kind of cranked it up in the second,” said Rissmiller. “We worked those guys low and drew a lot of penalties. Our power play was awesome and it really made the difference.”
Rissmiller was not the only rookie that chipped in in the Sharks victory. The aforementioned Carle posted two assists on the night, giving the Hobey Baker Award winner three points in his first playoff series as an NHLer.
No stranger to pressure filled games, Carle may be a rookie, but he’s a veteran when it comes to playoffs. He captained the University of Denver squad that won back-to-back National Championships.
“(As a young player) there is no pressure at all,” said Carle. “Our team overall is pretty young, but we have a lot of NHL experience as a whole. It makes it easier for us younger guys knowing that these guys are here to back us up.”
Rissmiller whole-heartedly agrees with his newest teammate.
“Everybody here is pretty low key, the whole room, there are a lot of us that played with one another in the minors and it makes for a very easy transition,” added Rissmiller. “Everyone is here helping each other out.”
The Captain himself acknowledges the contribution of all the rookies on the team, yet he doesn’t consider them to be freshmen anymore.
“I think regular season rookie status is over,” said Marleau. “We’re in the playoffs now and it is a completely different thing. They have all been here and they all know what it takes. They know what they’re doing and it’s really helping out the team. They’re no longer rookies, they are beyond that now.”
Steve Bernier, another Sharks rookie, also continued his fine playoff play, notching his first and second assists of the series to go with his goal that he posted in Game 3. It seems as if every Sharks line is helping out from top to bottom and that is something that Team Teal will need if they want to advance further in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We are not just a one or two line hockey team,” said Mark Smith, who notched his third goal of the series tonight. “We can have any of our guys step up and make a difference. You saw that in the first goal, Rissy made a nice deflection and Goc made a nice play on the wall. There’s just a lot of young guys playing unbelievable right now. Matt Carle had two assists and is just playing unbelievable.”
-Marleau scored his 23rd, 24th, and 25th career playoff goals as he continues to extend his franchise lead in playoff goal scoring, as well as extending his lead for current Sharks players in playoff goals and points. He is extending his playoff goal streak to three games (six goals,one assist, for a total of seven points).
-This marks the third time in his career Marleau has recorded a playoff hat trick. The two previous hat ticks both came in the 2003-2004 campaign.
-Patrick Marleau currently leads all playoff goal scorers with six goals.
-Christian Ehrhoff extended his playoff points streak to three games (0-5=5), by registering two assists.
-Tom Preissing extended his playoff points streak to four games (0-5=5), by assisting on Patrick Marleau
’s second goal. -Matt Carle registered his first career multi-point playoff game collecting two assists.
The Sharks will head to Nashville on Sunday to try to put an end to the series when they take on the Predators at 5:30 p.m. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area or heard on the 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.