Just as he did back on February 15 at Bridgestone Arena, Patrick Marleau dashed down the ice for an overtime winner to lift the San Jose Sharks past the Nashville Predators, this time by a 3-2 score. Pekka Rinne was sensational once again, turning aside 22 of 25 Sharks shots, many of which will end up on the highlight reel. By at least making it to overtime, the Preds finish this road trip at 1-1-2, enough to leave them in 10th spot in the West, with 12 out of 15 games remaining on home ice.
Follow after the jump for highlights, reaction, advanced stats, and a programming note...
Welcome the boys back home Thursday vs. Minnesota, and take the OTF Discount to save money on Nashville Predators tickets for this, or any other home game!
Let's begin with the video highlights and Predators vs Sharks boxscore...
- Once again, the Preds started off well, but didn't reap the rewards for it. Despite an early shooting edge, it was San Jose getting the first goal as Ryan Clowe worked the top of the crease and deflected the puck behind Pekka Rinne, who had already made a couple of highlight-reel saves.
- The equalizer scored minutes later on the power play by Joel Ward amply demonstrated the goaltending edge for the Preds. Antti Niemi shouldn't have had trouble with that puck, but it slipped right on into the net.
- While the 2nd San Jose goal came off a deflection from Jerred Smithson's stick, give full marks to the Sharks' 3rd-ranked power play, which go the Preds to collapse to one corner and leave Justin Braun wide open to wind up a big slapper.
- Nashville was fortunate that San Jose took a Too Many Men penalty shortly thereafter, and the tying goal by Shea Weber was a great example of something I'd like to see him do more often; moving off the point to find a soft spot in the defense, in this case off the far side of the crease. Shea ended up with that goal and an assist, pushing him past the 40-point mark for the 3rd straight season.
- From that point on, however, the Sharks carried the play, particularly in a lopsided 3rd period in which Nashville was outshot 13-4. Pekka Rinne was nothing less than outstanding in carrying the Preds to overtime. While San Jose coach Todd McLellan mentioned Rinne's name as a Hart Trophy candidate as MVP, he has no shot on a team which loses about as often as it wins. But I could see him in the top 3-5.
- You could tell in the overtime that Barry Trotz wanted to just make it to the shootout, with guys like Nick Spaling and Jerred Smithson getting thrown out there.
- As for that game winner for Patrick Marleau? Just a classic example of a talented guy jumping on an opportunity and capitalizing. You have to admire the speed with which he took off, and the concentration to get off a dangerous shot while Ryan Suter was pressuring him from behind.
- Yes, I know the Preds are just a point out of a playoff spot, but it's getting harder to be optimistic about their chances with each passing game. This looks eerily similar to 2009, except there's no goal-scorer who might at least rejoin the lineup for the final push. At even strength, you just don't get the sense that any individual can create scoring chances consistently, they only come from hard work by the whole team to create turnovers.
- Hard work is an admirable trait to hang on the Preds, but especially at this time of year, the other team is trying hard, too.
- J.P. Dumont finally got to play again, on a line with Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo. They had one decent shift in the offensive end, but that was about it. Again, J.P. is a wasted asset on a 4th line.
OTF Programming Note
I've decided to take a break from blogging here for at least a few days. I put a ton of effort daily into keeping on top of things and bringing you the daily news & notes (I monitor about 400 different hockey-related feeds), but frankly, I don't know that it's worth it, or ever will be. Frustration over that issue is starting to bleed into what I do here, and I feel that in trying to keep up the quantity of information, covering every breaking development about the Preds, I've let the quality slip too much. There are things I'd rather do (assembling data and doing more analysis) and things I should do, like figure out how to make a buck out of all this. Right now, this is like a second job that actually costs me money - and as a guy with a wife, kids, and a full time job, that's just not a sustainable situation.
In the coming days there will still be stuff popping up here - Ryan has a Milwaukee Admirals update running Wednesday morning which you'll want to read, Chris is covering Thursday's home game against Minnesota, etc., and if something important breaks I'll toss it up. For now, though, I need to take some time and do a deep think on how OTF is going to work in the future. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And lastly, here are your even-strength advanced stats...
|Even Strength||Individual Totals||Team Totals While Player Is On Ice|
|Player||Pos||EV TOI||Shots||Shts Blkd||Missed Shts||Blocks||SOG For||SOG Ag||SOG +/-||Tot SF||Tot SA||Corsi|