Predators edge Sharks behind balanced attack
If the Nashville Predators are going to earn their fifth straight berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs they are going to have to duplicate their performance against the San Jose Sharks several more times down the stretch.
The Predators got points from six players Thursday night in a 3-2 win over the Sharks, who are tied with Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.
"Playing as a team is how we are going to win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It is not going to be one individual putting us on his back. It's going to be what you saw tonight with all of our guys pulling together with all they have."
The Predators fell behind 1-0 in the first period when Christian Ehrhoff found Joe Pavelski midway in the slot. Pavelski sent a wrist shot past Pekka Rinne, beating him to his stick side with 4:37 left.
San Jose took a 2-0 lead on the power play when Devin Setoguchi put his stick on a rebound and got the puck past Rinne from the left side 3:12 into the second.
Nashville had gone 12 straight home games without allowing a power-play goal. The Sharks were 2-of-4 on the power play, including a chance in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game.
"I thought the first period was one of the strongest periods we have played in a while," Trotz said. "We were down 1-0, but I didn't think San Jose had anything but the power play for the most part for two periods."
San Jose played the second of back-to-back games. The Predators wanted to take advantage of the scheduling by pushing as hard as they could against the Sharks from the opening faceoff.
"They were a tired team after a long game in Chicago," Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said. "So we took it to them early and often in the first period, and carried the momentum well into the second period. Even though they had the 2-0 lead, we thought we were the fresher team and if we kept on going after them good things would happen."
The Predators rallied with three goals in a span of 2:38
"I told our players after the first period that if they kept on doing what they were doing, kept the pace and kept pushing that things would fall into place," Trotz said. "We had three quick goals there. If San Jose had scored the third one before we scored I think it would have been game, set and match."
The Predators scored a power-play goal 7:34 into the second when Shea Weber backhanded a pass across the crease to Radek Bonk, who skated in from the right side and beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Trotz thought Bonk's play, along with that of his linemates Jerred Smithson and Jordin Tootoo, was crucial.
"The first goal was big because we had to break the ice a little bit," Trotz said. "The bottom line is we played a real strong game and the credit goes to Bonk.
"I think he was outstanding playing against Joe Thornton all night. That whole line was really solid."
Nashville tied it at 2 when Steve Sullivan found Martin Erat near the left post and made a short pass to him. Erat pushed the puck between the post and Nabokov at 9:33.
Greg Zanon gave the Predators the lead at 10:12 from high in the slot just inside the blue line with a slap shot to the glove side. Zanon is known more for blocking shots than scoring winning goals.
"I got a good screen," Zanon said of his fourth goal of the season. "It wasn't a hard shot, but it was one of those things where you just want to get the puck to the net no matter what."
The Sharks were concerned with their inability to score at even strength.
"We didn't score a goal 5-on-5, and that's obviously been one of the big problems the last few months," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We need to show more poise and patience with the puck.
"There's not much time left to fine tune this thing. We obviously need to play better hockey, and it hasn't been good enough consistently."
Nashville C David Legwand missed the game after being hit in the side of the face with a puck during practice Wednesday. ... Patrick Marleau rejoined the Sharks after missing a game at Chicago on Wednesday so he could be home with his wife for the birth of their second child, Brody, on Wednesday. ... Setoguchi, who scored two goals Wednesday in San Jose's 6-5 loss, netted his 30th of the season. ... Nashville recalled Cal O'Reilly for the second time this season to fill in for Legwand.