Predators 3, Sharks 2 - Fuel, Fire, and Nino Niederreiter sparks Nashville’s Global Series Sweep

The Preds head back stateside with a perfect record

Editor’s Note:

Today we welcome guest contributor Keegan Osinski for today’s game recap.  Keegan resides in Nashville, and is a librarian, relatively new hockey fan and published author.  We’re excited to have Keegan bring you all this recap, so join us in giving her a big OTF welcome!

The only thing better than one season-opening Global Series win is two season-opening Global Series wins.

For the second day in a row, the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks in Prague, this time 3-2.

Both teams started backups after Friday’s Game 1, with Kevin Lankinen and Kaapo Kähkönen in net for Nashville and San Jose, respectively. Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, and Kiefer Sherwood started on the Predators’ front line.

First Period

After the ceremonial puck drop by Czech hockey and former mullet legend Jaromir Jagr, Prague’s hometown boy Tomáš Hertl of the Sharks won the face off. But a quick high stick penalty sent him directly to the box, putting the Predators on the power play after just 6 seconds. They had several shot opportunities, but the penalty was killed by the Sharks.

Soon after, interference was called on Yakov Trenin for a late shove of Timo Meier, and the Preds’ first penalty kill unit took the ice. Mikhail Granlund, Cole Smith, Dante Fabbro, and Jeremy Lauzon (in for Mark Borowiecki, who played on Friday) had a solid kill for Nashville.

A huge hit from Tanner Jeannot on Matt Nieto mid-period elicited cheers from the crowd, but failed to generate any intensity for the Predators.

Jeannot then took a delayed penalty for hooking on Logan Couture behind the Nashville net, putting the Sharks on the power play again. The Pred’s PK was a little messy and unorganized, giving Hertl a good look and ultimately letting former Predator Luke Kunin score on a rebound off of Lankinen’s pads at 14:24. By the end of the period, Kunin totaled 3 shots on goal and 5 shot attempts.

Nashvhille had a hard time getting any momentum for the rest of the period.

Second Period

The second period started a little sluggish for both teams, until a Johansen to Niederreiter goal at 4:35 that put the Predators on the board.

Just ten seconds later, a quick buzzkill response by the Sharks’ Couture was just out of reach of Lankinen’s glove, putting San Jose back up 1-2.

The Preds refused to back down, however, and Fil Forsberg (with help from Matt Duchene and Granlund) scored on his own rebound with a wrap-around shot.

That made 3 goals scored in 2 minutes.

There were lots of good, hard hits by the Preds mid-period, bringing an increased physicality to the game, but Niederreiter drew a minor for “boarding,” sending the Preds on the power kill. Nashville hung in there, and as soon as Niederreiter was out of the box, Eeli Tolvanen passed, Kähkönen dove, and Neiderreiter’s patience gave him another pretty goal.

Interference by the Sharks’ Jaycob Megna put Nashville on the power play. The power play unit looked confident and kept the puck in the San Jose zone, but couldn’t manage to score.

Both teams responded with higher energy back and forth until the end of the period, which ended with the Preds leading 3-2.

Third Period

The third period consisted of significantly more Preds defense while the Sharks tried to make a comeback.

Nieto’s stick-grabbing chicken wing got an interference against Lauzon, resulting in a challenging but ultimately successful penalty kill for the Preds.

Matt Benning went to the box for tripping Cody Glass, giving Nashville a struggle-bus power play that spent hardly any time in the San Jose zone. Radim Simek even tried a shorthanded shot, stopped by Lankinen.

Long stretches with no whistle or possession change made for some tired Predators lines with very little offensive zone time. San Jose emptied the net with 2:25 left, but Nashville battled it out and finished the game strong, 3-2.

The Predators head back to Nashville tomorrow morning to prepare for the home opener against the Dallas Stars on Thursday.