The Preds, however, were the ones to get out to a strong start this game. Juuse Saros was back in net, and Eeli Tolvanen returned to the lineup after leaving Sunday night’s game hurt after getting boarded. Matt Benning and Mark Borowiecki returned on the third defense pairing.
Roman Josi drew a tripping penalty a minute in, with his former teammate Nick Bonino heading to the penalty box for the Sharks, and then set up Matt Duchene for a power-play goal seconds after that.
Saros was called on to make several big saves as the period continued, but so too was James Reimer in net for the Sharks. The Herd Line continued to impress, with Colton Sissons and Tanner Jeannot almost connecting for a goal. It wasn’t all on the role players, though, as Filip Forsberg run iron eight minutes in.
Not long after that, though, the ice began to tilt in the Sharks’ favor. Sissons and Alexandre Carrier both made alert plays to help Saros out.
With three minutes to go in the period, Matt Duchene was called for hooking, and the Sharks went on the power play. The Preds got a little help as the Sharks dealt with a veritable convention of broken sticks, but Saros made every save he had to make and the Preds escaped the penalty, and the period, without giving up their lead.
Jeannot took a high-sticking penalty seconds into the second period, the blade of his stick going alarmingly close to Timo Meier’s eye but fortunately not connecting. The first chance of the penalty kill went to Yakov Trenin shorthanded, and Luke Kunin and Mikael Granlund were also aggressive with the puck, and although the Sharks were able to get set up towards the end of their advantage Saros and the penalty killers once again held firm. Tanner Jeannot and his linemates got a good odd-man rush as Jeannot was released from the sin bin, but Trenin hit the Preds’ second bar of the night and the score remained the same.
The teams traded chances, with Josi almost managing to get a rush shot past Reimer with three Sharks all over him, and then Tomas Hertl doing more or less the same. Carrier was called for interference on the Hertl play, and the Sharks went back on the power play. Jeannot and Sissons got another shorthanded breakaway, but Reimer once again made the save.
Filip Forsberg scored his third of the season off another great pass from Josi with 7:29 to go in the period. Trenin almost added to the score moments later, but once again no joy—this time he missed just wide of the net.
Neither team got many chances in the second, with the Predators gravitating toward the right circle but still doing a better job of controlling play than they did in the first. After intermission, the Sharks began amping up the pressure, getting more sustained and intense stretches in the Nashville end.
Timo Meier broke Saros’s shutout with eight minutes to go in the third, batting a puck in out of the air in a scramble after the Preds’ goalie gave up a rebound. That invigorated the Sharks, and they piled on the pressure. With four minutes remaining and Saros out of position, Ryan Johansen saved a goal, and Philip Tomasino almost scored on a breakaway seconds later, but was stopped by Reimer.
With the period winding down, the Sharks pulled Reimer for the extra attacker, and Mikael Granlund was able to score an empty-net goal from almost 200 feet. Still, with 40 seconds to go, the Sharks pulled Reimer again. The Preds weathered the storm, though, and finished with a 3-1 victory.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Roman Josi — another stellar night for Josi.
- Juuse Saros — some of the rebounds were a little too spicy, even before Meier’s goal, but this was definitely the Saros we’d hoped to see at the start of the season. It’s good to have him back.
- Yakov Trenin — he could have had a hat trick, man. Just rotten luck.