Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Predators need overtime to stop the Sharks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators are sure lucky to have Pekka Rinne. Without their star goaltender, the Predators would have never even gotten to overtime against San Jose.

Colin Wilson scored at 2:08 of overtime, and Nashville beat the Sharks, 1-0, on Tuesday to snap a two-game skid.

Rinne made 13 of his 25 saves in the first period for his second shutout this season in a game in which Nashville set a franchise mark for offensive futility before Wilson scored. The goal ended the drought at 176 minutes, 18 seconds over a three-game span.

“We weren’t even in that game without Pekka Rinne in that first period,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “Pekka also had a huge save in the overtime. Just as the game always seems to happen, we had a huge save and were able to come down the other way and score shortly after.”

San Jose has lost six straight after opening the season with seven consecutive wins, a streak ended in a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Feb. 2. The Sharks do at least have a point in three of the losses.

“We have to find a way to get over the hump, get one by some goaltenders and find some wins here,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan.

Six of the past eight games between these teams have gone past regulation, though Nashville now has gone to at least overtime in seven of 13 games this season. So the Sharks took their timeout with 32.8 seconds left in regulation, and Antti Niemi gloved a shot from Gabriel Bourque with 4.7 seconds remaining.

Nashville got a bit of luck nearly a minute into overtime. Rinne made a save first on Joe Pavelski, then on Patrick Marleau that had him sprawled on his belly when the puck dribbled just pass his outstretched skate behind him in the crease toward the goal line. Bourque swooped in to clear the puck, giving the Predators a chance at the win.

“I didn’t really know where the puck was,” Rinne said.

Wilson got the winner for Nashville when he tipped defenseman Ryan Ellis’ shot from the high slot past Niemi.

“I saw Ellis had it, so I drove the middle and he took a shot and (I) got the tip on it,” Wilson said. “I just kind of squeaked behind him (Niemi), and I got a piece of it again and it just kind of trickled in.”

The Predators topped the 166:44 scoreless skid, that had been the longest in franchise history, set between Dec. 4-10, 2000. They lost 2-1 in overtime in Minnesota on Saturday before being shut out by Chicago on Sunday and added another 60 scoreless minutes against San Jose, finishing regulation with the drought at 174:10.

The Sharks had the quick turnaround after losing their fifth straight at Columbus 6-2 on Monday night.

“Besides the Columbus game, we’ve been right there,” ‘Pavelski said. “We just have to find ways to get one or two or three. With the numbers we are pitching and the ways our goalies are playing, we can win with those numbers.”

Trotz gave the Predators the day off Monday after back-to-back games over the weekend. The rest didn’t help Nashville’s offense. The Predators are last in the NHL, averaging 21.1 shots per game with less than 20 in four of the past six games.

San Jose came out shooting and had a 13-3 edge after the first period. The offense dwindled in the second as the Sharks went 0-for-6 on the power play.

Rinne kept the game scoreless after Predators forward Martin Erat matched his career high with eight penalty minutes, all in the second period. He was given a double minor for high-sticking less than 2 minutes into the period, took another penalty for holding a stick, and negated a Nashville power play when he was called for hooking at 11:05.

The Nashville goalie helped kill off 41 seconds of a 5-on-3 when Nick Spaling joined Erat in the box at 12:24, earning a big roar from the fans when he gloved a shot during the two-man advantage. Fans cheered the Predators again once they killed the rest of the Sharks’ power play.

“The penalty kill gave us momentum,” Trotz said. “They got determined. They sacrificed themselves. They got angry at themselves, and they fixed it. That’s the best thing any coach can have when they fix it in their own room.”

Notes: Both the U.S. women’s national soccer team and Scotland, who will play an exhibition Wednesday night in Nashville, were at the game. … Rinne has 27 career shutouts. … The Sharks recalled center Tim Kennedy from the Worcester of the AHL. He was in the lineup. … Erat also had eight penalty minutes on Jan. 17, 2008, against Anaheim. … Nashville has gotten at least a point in nine of 10 games against San Jose. … Nashville announced its 18th straight sellout.

The Associated Press

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