Sharks fans slept easier last night after the team was able to pull out a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators without overtime, without a shootout. It was a clean 2 points at the end of a 3 game home stand that saw them win in a shootout against Colorado then fall to Detroit on Damien Brunner’s slick shot past Niemi during another shootout.
The team looked sharper out the gate, as Coach Todd McLellan shook up the lines again, this time putting Pavelski, Marleau and Tim Kennedy together, a fast combination who brought in 14 of the 39 shots the Sharks totaled. The team clearly heard the message from the coaching staff – shoot the puck and shoot it some more as the Sharks plowed through Nashville’s defense to get 16 shots on goal in the first period, one of which found it’s way past Rinne during the power play. Pavelski formed the perfect screen in front of the net for Dan Boyle, receiving a pass from Thornton, to rip one through traffic putting the Sharks up 1-0.
The power play once again made a difference for the Sharks in the second period. Pavelski, a playmaker throughout the game, jammed the puck in the corner as he spun around from behind the net, making it 2-0.
Both goals came within the first 30 seconds of the power play, an area the Sharks have struggled this season. Although the power play looked sharper offensively, defensive miscues at the blue line once led to a breakaway by the Preds Erat, which Niemi contained. The second, a bobbling puck that Matt Irwin couldn’t control, led to a shorthanded goal by Gabriel Bourque giving the Predators hope late in the third period.
The waning minutes of the third period showed a flurry of activity around both ends, with Marleau cruising for his 400th career goal and the Predators hoping to force overtime with an extra attacker in. As the final seconds ticked down, Logan Couture took two for the team, blocking a shot from Shea Weber with his wrist and then followed up with Roman Josi’s shot off his right foot denying the Predators any chance at tying things up. After the game Couture, reflected on his defensive play. “When you’re dying for a win, really whatever it takes. I’m happy to block shots just as long as we win.”