It was supposed to be a speedy, back-and-forth game Tuesday night between the Sharks and the Nashville Predators. And boy, it didn’t disappoint.
San Jose traded opportunities with the Western Conference-leading Preds all night, even overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period to tie things up late. Then Sharks fans were rewarded with the Erik Karlsson feed to Brent Burns they’ve been waiting for since the start of the season, as San Jose skated away with the 5-4 victory.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's instant classic.
Scoring was tit for tat, all the way
In their two previous tilts, the Sharks was able to gain momentum on their opponents and create some cushion in their lead. It was different story, however, when they took on Nashville on Tuesday evening. The exchange of chances kept the game entertaining from start to finish, and showed this Sharks team has the fuel to come back from a deficit against a tough team.
The Sharks got on the board early with a rebound goal from Timo Meier on the power play. But Viktor Arvidsson capitalized on a breakaway and buried the equalizer before the first period was over. Nashville added to it 21 seconds into the second stanza when Filip Forsberg collected a loose rebound and deposited it to give the Predators the lead.
In the second frame, Meier broke up a play in the Sharks zone and got the puck to Logan Couture. No. 39 made a nice feed to Tomas Hertl, who scooped the puck past Saros to tie the game, 2-2. Then Arvidsson scored again after snagging a behind-the-net feed from Forsberg to give Nashville 3-2 lead.
The near-backbreaker came in the waning minutes of the second period, when Barclay Goodrow rang a shorthanded attempt off the post, and Nashville brought the puck back the other way for Craig Smith to deposit the Predators’ fourth goal on the evening.
All seemed lost for the Sharks, until Brendan Dillon went coast-to-coast to notch the shorthanded goal, and Joe Pavelski followed it up by tying the contest up 4-4. Burns’ game-winner was icing on the cake.
Defense played a role … for better or for worse
The Sharks and Predators have two of the most talked-about blue lines in the entire NHL. While both has some amazing moments, both let their feet – or skates, if you want to be picky – off the gas at different times.
San Jose’s defense looked sturdy early in the tilt, a couple turnovers allowed Nashville’s top line to capitalize and find the back of the net. Likewise, Nashville’s defense settled back on their heels in the third period which allowed Dillon to skate in and score.
The penalty trouble almost came back to haunt the Sharks
Not that the delay of game penalty against the Sharks in the third period made much sense. Nevertheless, San Jose gave Nashville too many opportunities on the power play.
Even though the Predators’ power play wasn’t anything spectacular, this is still an area the Sharks need to clean up as the season goes on. And it’s certainly something for them to tighten up as the three-game road trip continues. Their next opponents in the upcoming games aren’t necessarily power-play specialists – the Hurricanes are somewhere towards the bottom of the league on that end of special teams – but its still a part of the Sharks’ game they likely want to clean up.