The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks battled for 111:12 last night; the longest game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far. There was a combined 87 shots on net as well as 73 blocked shots and 73 landed hits.
While the contest that began on Thursday night did not end until after 2 AM on the east coast, it was worth every second as it turned out to be one of the best hockey games seen all year long.
The Predators came out on top just past the midway point of the third extra frame by a count of 4-3 to knot the series up at two games a piece.
It did not take long at all, just 41 seconds in fact, for the Predators to get on the board and gain some momentum in this one. After Mattias Ekholm threw a shot on net, Colin Wilson was there to clean up the rebound to give the Preds the early advantage.
While the momentum was in the Predators corner following the Wilson tally, it was quickly taken back a bit thanks to Brent Burns sneaking a wrister past Pekka Rinne from along the boards to knot things up at 1's just 2:27 after the Preds took the lead.
The scoring wasn't done in the first period after the two quick strikes as Mike Fisher found the back of the net with 10:10 left in the first frame. After Roman Josi dropped a pass to James Neal who fired a wrist shot on net, Fisher was there to clean up the mess and give Nashville their lead back.
Meanwhile, Josi kept his bad luck streak alive for the post season by pinging the first of what would be four Predators' shots to hit the post. Josi has eight helpers in the post season but has yet to light the lamp.
While Nashville controlled play in the first period, the Sharks pushed back and played their tempo and style in the second period keeping the Preds off the board and tying the contest up with 5:51 left in the frame. Joonas Donskoi scored his third of the playoffs with a lot of help from Ryan Ellis' stick.
Prior to Donskoi's goal, Filip Forsberg could not manage to dump the puck down the ice as the Sharks' power play was dwindling down to it's final seconds. As soon as Forsberg turned it over at the blue line you could just sense that something was about to happen, and it did.
Following the game tying goal, the Predators' challenged the play for offsides. Forsberg clearly pushed the puck over the blue line, but Joel Ward was able to tag up before Paul Martin touched the puck in the offensive zone therefore good goal.
Preds challenge Sharks goal for offside, it is ruled that Ward tagged up at the blueline in time. pic.twitter.com/NFpOVo7uEN— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 6, 2016
In the third period, a number of early penalties were handed out. Burns sent a puck over the glass for a delay of game but Nashville could not get anything going on their power play. Miikka Salomaki then boarded Logan Couture which the Predators were able to kill off the minor, but that wasn't the case for the Barret Jackman kneeing minor with 13:17 left in regulation.
Here is Barret Jackman’s penalty that led to the PP go ahead goal from the Sharks: pic.twitter.com/CHr164nzeI— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) May 6, 2016
Just five seconds after Jackman headed to the box the Sharks took a 3-2 lead as Burns scored his second of the night with the help of Josi's upper body to put the puck past Rinne.
Burns with his second goal of the night. Deflects off of Josi and in. Sharks lead the Preds 3-2: pic.twitter.com/ma2ppW4eZQ— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) May 6, 2016
The Predators kept chipping away and chipping away with the clock ticking down in the third before they finally managed to tie the game back up at 3-3 thanks to Neal potting his fourth goal of the post season. Ellis' shot deflected right to a wide open Neal and there was no way the sniper wasn't going to score.
He wasn't very excited.
Then, the overtime festivities began for 50+ minutes.
In the first extra frame the Predators managed to put more shots on goal (11) than the Sharks did (9), but San Jose was able to create both a higher quantity a higher quantity of scoring chances. The Sharks out chanced the Preds in all situations in the first overtime 13-5 including four high-danger chances compared to Nashville's two.
The Predators even went on the power play with 10:58 left in overtime, but they could not manage to create any bit of offense whatsoever.
It even looked as if the Sharks had won the game as the puck crossed the goal line in the middle of a scrum, but after review it was ruled that Rinne was interfered with therefore no goal.
Things remain on edge in Nashville..play under review: pic.twitter.com/uFx24UxqFJ— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) May 6, 2016
The second overtime was even more of a struggle for Nashville. They were out shot 11-4 and out chanced 9-6, nevertheless Rinne remained a wall in net and they pushed the game into the third overtime and into the history books of the longest game in Predators' history.
Joe Thornton was caught for high sticking against Salomaki just 2:56 into the second overtime but again, Nashville could not capitalize on the chance to end the game.
The Predators managed to kill off a penalty of their own after Shea Weber was called for a high stick on Martin with 2:03 left in the frame.
Weber then took his second penalty in the third overtime interfering with Chris Tierney but just as they did before, the Nashville penalty killers were able to kill off the Sharks' man advantage.
Just as the Predators' legs seemed to be weighing much heaver than the Sharks, the Predators dumped the puck into the Sharks' zone just past the midway point of the third extra period. Wilson initially retrieved the puck and then nearly fanned on an attempted pass towards Ekholm but it found it's way to the big Swede regardless. Ekholm then threw a shot on goal and Fisher was there to bury his second goal of the game and to give the Preds' their first ever playoff win in overtime at Bridgestone Arena in franchise history.
Listen to this before you watch the video highlight. Amazing.
Wilson led the way for the Preds in the points category with a goal and two helpers while Fisher (2G), Neal (1G, 1A), Ellis (2A) and Ekholm (2A) each recorded two points on the night.
While those names and others had great games, no one had a better game than Rinne did. The Finnish netminder stopped 44 of the 47 shots he faced and was the only reason the Predators survived as long as they did during the overtime periods.
Rinne ended the night with 10 high-danger saves and 11 medium-danger saves (via War On Ice).