Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Predators Bite Sharks with 3-2 Comeback Win

If someone ever asks for a definition of "Predators' hockey," you would have to look no further than a video of the last five minutes of the Nashville's 3-2 comeback win over the San Jose Sharks to explain what to them what it means.

The Predators appeared to be headed for a loss late in the third period but they never stopped giving 110% effort playing at both ends of the ice. Their persistence paid off with back to back goals, 44 seconds apart, first by Sergei Kostitsyn and then the game winner by Colin Wilson to give the Predators the win.

Another aspect of Predator hockey is that they never do it the easy way as was the case tonight. After they took the lead, Jordin Tootoo was called for delay of game so the Preds had to kill a Sharks power play for the last 1:52 of the game. Anders Lindback was spectacular in the closing minute fending off one of "the best lines on the planet" as Barry Trotz stated.

Lindback was coming off of back to back shutouts and his streak was broken in the first period. "I knew it was going to come sooner or later," Lindback said. "I just do what I always do, just try not to think about it and to just go on with the next puck."

Trotz was pleased with Lindback's play one again, "You get good goaltending and you can be in it. He gave us some big saves, timely saves and we're in it. We get a timely goal then another one and we're sitting here with a victory."

The Sharks were first to get on the scoreboard at 7:25 in the pening period when Wallin took a cross ice pass from Benn Ferriero behind the right circle and put it past Lindback to gain an early 1-0 lead.

The Predators finished the period on the power play when ex-Pred Scott Nichol was called for hooking at 19:09. The Predators out shot the Sharks 13-9 and led the Corsi 23-18 but it seemed that the Preds spent a good part of the opening period in their own defensive zone.

"To be honest, I didn't even know it went in until my line mates started cheering. We were just fortunate we got a lucky bounce and the bottom line is that we got two points and that's what we came here tonight to do."

The Predators started the second period on the carry-over power play and had nothing to show for it. The Predators and Sharks then traded penalties with Sergei Kostitsyn picking up a high sticking call and Dany Heatley getting a double minor for cross checking and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Predators did not garner a good scoring chance in the two and a half minutes of man advantage that came on the back end of the flurry of penalties.

The Predators tied the game 1-1 at 12:14 on a freak play when Tootoo was was being held on the boards behind the net and flipped the puck toward the net and ex-Pred Nichol deflected the puck past Niemi into the Sharks net.

The Sharks grabbed the lead again at 17:26 in the second period on the power play after Shane O'Brien had been called for tripping. It was a slick play where Heatley passed the puck to Joe Thornton beside the net who then he sent it back to Heatley who easily put it past Lindback to make it 2-1.

As the second period ended, J. P. Dumont made the defensive play of the game when he stopped Logan Couture's short-handed breakaway drive by knocking the puck free as he drove to the net. "That was a big play at that point because we were down 2-1. If He walks in and scores, I would probably say at that point it was game, set, match," explained Trotz.

The Sharks out shot the Preds 10-7 in the second period and appeared to be in control of the game heading into the third period.

The Predators kept pushing the play in the third period and out shot the Sharks 15-8. Their drive and persistence paid off as the period wound down.

At 16:44, Shea Weber skated the puck down the left boards and fired a shot at the net that was tipped by Kostitsyn and found the back of the net past Niemi to tie the game 2-2.

"That was great pass from Shea to me. I just tipped it and it went in," Kostitsyn explained.

The team got a huge momentum shift and struck again at 17:28 when the Predators had a three on one breakaway and Steve Sullivan sent a perfect pass from right to left to a wide open Wilson who scored the game winner.

The Predators finished the evening with 38 points which is the second highest total in the Western Conference. Only the Central division leading Detroit has more with 43.

Patrick Hornqvist was unable to play in the game which caused some odd line combinations with several folks taking fourth line duty since Wade Belak only skated two shifts as Hornqvist's replacement. Trotz indicated that Hornqvist was doubtful for the next two games and a recall from Milwaukee was probable.

After the hard fought game, the coaching staff gave the team a day off from practice on Thursday before they leave for New Jersey to face the Devils on Friday night. They play again at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night when they face the Los Angeles Kings.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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