Preds Fall Behind Early, Can’t Get Through Niemi
By Brett LaBombarda @bplabombarda
The SAP Center in San Jose was the venue for a clash of teams on two-game win streaks. The Preds and the Sharks both did their best to keep the streak alive and cautiously feel the opponent out, with the San Jose being the first to apply any significant pressure.
Not five minutes into the game, the Sharks were able to recover a rim-around by Scott Hannan. Tomas Hertl sneaked behind three Nashville defenseman, who were all caught looking the other way, and tap one through Pekka Rinne at 5:01 into the first period.
Despite two minor penalties – on a 2 minute slashing minor to Barclay Goodrow and one for hooking to Chris Tierney – the Sharks *still* managed to double generate shot attempts at a wholly impressive rate with 31 in the period. Usual suspect Joe Pavelski had 5 attempts himself while Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro were the only Preds to manage more than one shot attempt with two apiece.
Action in the second period was slow to start and the first ten minutes provided a curmudgeon of chances of the rush with little follow-up or sustain. The optics pointed to the Preds’ finding a sense of patience and not trying to match arms with a team that specializes in such weaponry. Nashville was keeping up better than they had in the first.
And then, the armpit incident. Shea Weber briefly returned to the dressing from due to a skate-induced armpit laceration, but the Preds attack seemed unaffected. However, the fatigue of running with four defenseman (as Seth Jones would sit for two) showed shorty after in a round of defensive zone mistakes, including two turnovers in the low slot. Pekka Rinne made an outstanding laying-down save (about 7.5 Haseks on a 10 Hasek scale) to bail Nashville out of falling behind further in the goal column.
The Predators came out in the third period on a mission. For about the first seven and a half minutes, Nashville paced the Corsi battle, but had less success translating that into goals, or even shots on goal to an extent. The chances were there in volume for most of the third period, but Antti Niemi turned in an effective-but-not-pretty win as he is known to do. An empty net goal by Joe Thornton put the seal on the 2-0 San Jose victory.
1. Antti Niemi (SO, W, 29 SV)
2. Pekka Rinne (32 SV)
3. Toms Hertl (GWG)
Statistics from http://war-on-ice.com/.