Dec 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Nick Spaling (13) gets out of the way as a shot by Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59), not pictured, gets by San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mike Strasinger-USA TODAY Sports

Predators Defense Too Much For San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks (20-7-6, 46 points) fell to the Nashville Predators (16-14-3, 35 points) by the final score of 3-2 at the Bridgestone Arena in the first game of their three-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Predators extend their win streak to four games and continue their climb in their division.

Nashville broke the ice by scoring first on what was a simple play with about four minutes left in the first period. They got a shot on net from Victor Bartley from the point and got it on net, where teammate Eric Nystrom was heading to the net. Nystrom was able to get a piece of the puck and redirect it by Antti Niemi.

Later on in the second Nashville would score again to push their lead to two goals when defenseman Roman Josi received a pass at the top of the circles on the power play and fired one by the Sharks’ netminder. That goal, which came with about two minutes left in the second period, was a bit of a backbreaker because instead of heading into the locker rooms down just one goal they were down two.

Also, what made that two goal deficit even worse was the fact that the Sharks were not getting many great scoring opportunities. The Predators were doing a good job of keeping the San Jose forwards away from the front of the net as well as limiting second-chance opportunities, which is what the Sharks like to take advantage of. Instead, the shot total through two periods was 18-16 in favor of San Jose, which is low considering their usual high shot volume.

In the third period though the Sharks turned it on offensively and mustered 20 shots on net. They finally got on the board with just under 13 minutes left when Dan Boyle tipped a Matt Irwin shot between the legs of Nashville goaltender Carter Hutton giving the Sharks some life. At 2-1 San Jose now had all the momentum, though they were unable to take advantage of it.

Instead, Nashville scored a very timely goal on a two-on-one break with 3:30 left in regulation after Boyle was caught deep in the offensive zone with San Jose still down a goal. On the odd-man rush Viktor Stalberg fired a shot that Niemi got a piece of, but not enough to stop it from going into the net making it 3-1 Nashville.

In one last ditch effort the Sharks pulled Niemi with a little over two minutes left and, through lots of pressure, were able to get a goal with just under a minute left when Patrick Marleau deflected a shot-pass from Boyle on net. However, after that goal, the Sharks were unable to tie the game even after a mad scramble occurred in the front of the net that had all five Nashville players within a foot of the crease. That would be as good as it go though, and the final would stay at 3-2.

At times this game was a little feisty with the two fights in the game, but for the most part Nashville’s stifling defense got the better of San Jose’s high-powered offense. Instead of leaving this game with a win the Sharks have now lost five of their last six games and play have upcoming games against the Western Conference’s best in the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings.

GGS 3 Stars
1. Carter Hutton (36 saves)
2. Viktor Stalberg (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Dan Boyle (1 goal, 1 assist)

Tags: Antti Niemi Dan Boyle Matt Irwin Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks

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