Traditional Predator nemesis, Patrick Marleau picked up a loose puck 3:53 in to overtime and went one on one with Pekka Rinne and slipped the puck past the lanky netminder to give the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night.
Marleau explained the shot, "I was able to get some speed and beat him five hole."
Marleau has always played well against the Predators with 15 goals and 24 assists in 44 career regular season games. His real claim to fame against the Preds has been his 10 goals and 3 assists in 10 playoff games where he led the Sharks to 4-1 series victories in 2006 and 2007.
Rinne was under siege for most of the game, especially in the final two periods as he stopped 48 of 50 Sharks shots in taking the loss. Antti Niemi stopped 30 of 31 shots to claim the win.
Preds' coach Barry Trotz, explained the shot differential, "We gave up too many shots and that came through because we didn't manage the puck through the neutral zone. They did a really good job and closed their gaps."
Cody Franson scored the Predators only goal. Devin Setoguchi scored on a tremendous shot for the the Shark's first shot. Trotz was impressed. "Sometimes the perfect puck placed in the right spot trumps everything. A perfect shot - it went in."
The highlight of the game for the Preds was their special team play. "Our kills been great," explained Franson. "They definitely helped us out there, put we didn't capitalize on our chances after the five on three." The Preds also had a power play goal.
The Predators were first on the board at 6:48 in the first period on the power play, when Steve Sullivan fired a cross ice, circle to circle pass to Franson who put it past Niemi from his right side to give the Predators an early 1-0 lead.
The Predators survived a couple of back to back penalties by Ryan Suter and Shane O'Brien midway through the first period that included 26 second of five on three advantage for the Sharks when they had five shots but no goals.
As the period closed, the Preds had a pair of shots that hit the posts including one by Marty Erat on the open side of the net. For the period, the Preds out shot the Sharks 14-12 and led the Corsi 21-18.
The Sharks pulled even at 9:13 in the second period when Setoguchi skated the puck down the right boards and fired a shot high in the net over Rinne from a hard angle to tie the game 1-1.
The Sharks dominated the second period, outshooting the Predators 16-10 and the Corsi 23-17. As the period ended, I'm sure the Preds were pleased to be tied.
The third period felt like a continuation of the second as the Sharks continued to pound the puck at the Predator net and ended with a 17-7 shot advantage.
In overtime, the Sharks had five shots including Marleau's game winner and the Preds had none.
The loss left both teams with 68 points with the Preds having an edge for sixth place by virtue of having played one less game. Anaheim and Dallas also are at 68 points but have the tiebreakers for the fourth and fifth spot.
The Predators remain at home for their next game on Thursday night against the leagues best team, the Vancouver Canucks. They will practice at the Centennial Sportsplex on Wednesday morning.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass