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San Jose/Nashville - Game Three: What To Watch For

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Can you compare games one and two against the Sharks to games four and five against the Ducks? I think you can and I think Nashville is looking at it the same way. Game three is pivotal for the Predators as they look to work back into this series.

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Stay the course

There's zero question in my mind that Nashville was the better team in game two. They had the shots, they had solid traffic and they out-worked San Jose, but they lacked in the one statistic that matters the most: goals.

Even with 39 shots towards Martin Jones, the Predators could only break one past him -- not including the garbage marker they scored with less than five seconds remaining in regulation.

Better traffic in front of Jones will be key for Nashville to open the floodgates against San Jose. They've done a great job so far of forcing the play into the offensive zone, but they have to start capitalizing on rebound opportunities putting bodies in the blue paint.

Penalties will happen

If you think the Predators will be perfect and stay out of the box, you're living in a dream world. The odds of a team staying out of the box completely, especially in the playoffs, is nearly non-existent.

That being said, it's a matter of how you kill the penalty off and eliminate San Jose's dangerous power play threat.

On more than one occasion, Nashville had ample opportunities to clear the zone during the two Sharks power play chances in game two. The inability to get the puck out past the blue line has been the biggest reason that San Jose is converting at a 60 percent rate on its five chances so far this series.

Five power plays isn't a lot, but the Sharks have made it clear they will burn you with the man-advantage.

Again, Nashville isn't going to stay out of the box, but making sure to get bodies into the lanes and prevent zone entries will be key in making sure they're not burned when down a man.

Match-up battle

For two games, San Jose has seemingly won the match-up battle against the Predators. They've clearly benefited from having the last change at home, but what happens when the series moves to Nashville for games three and four?

Dating back to 2012, the Predators are 6-0-1 against the Sharks -- including this season's 3-2 shoot-out loss on April 2nd.

Nashville's home record was in the better half of the league, winning 23 of their 41 games and losing only 11 in regulation. They couldn't find a way to break through in games three or four against Anaheim, but easily used that home-ice advantage in game six to tie the series and send it back for a pivotal game seven.

The Predators have been here before, coming back from a two-game deficit to tie the series at home. San Jose has its work cut out for them. If Nashville can take advantage and tie the series up, whoever wins game five will win the series -- which may seem like a very Captain Obvious sentiment. If the Sharks win tonight? It may be lights out for the Predators.