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Three-goal second period helps Nashville grab two points from San Jose

Kevin Klein

Jan 7, 2014


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After three straight tough losses, Nashville had to find a way to finish a game and secure a win. With the San Jose Sharks visiting on Tuesday night, the Predators had a tall task ahead of them. Netting three goals in the second period and surviving a final flurry by the Sharks, Nashville collected an all-important two points as they try to inch closer to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“Everything is so crucial right now. The three games prior, we played really good games but we lost two in overtime and one really close one. It’s one of those things were all of the points help right now. We’ve been playing a really solid team game,” said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein

After a scoreless first period that saw both teams exchange scoring chances to no avail, the Predators broke through early in the second. David Legwand, who has not registered a goal in his previous 11 games before tonight, fired a wrist shot past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi after a strong forecheck forced San Jose into a costly turnover.

While Sharks forward Joe Pavelski would tie the game a little over three minutes later, Nashville would make it 2-1 only 27 seconds after that when defenseman Mattias Ekholm launched a backhander past Niemi for his first career NHL goal.

“It was kind of a broken play right off of the faceoff. I just skated around the net to try and get my forehand in there. Niemi blocked it out and then I twisted around and got it back in the net. I thought Spaling tipped it in at first, but it was nice the shot went it,” said Ekholm. “It is always special to score a goal in the National Hockey League. I have always wanted to get it, but I don’t know if anxious is the right word. It is a special feeling to get my first goal.”

The Predators found themselves in a bit of controversy moments later. As Predators forward Colin Wilson ended up sprawled on top of Niemi’s right leg, defenseman Roman Josi scored to give Nashville a 3-1 lead. While the play was reviewed following the goal, the decision on the ice stood, leaving San Jose’s bench irate.

“That’s a blown call. We’ve played 44 games. I go back to the Buffalo blown call in overtime, blown call in Winnipeg, the one in Minnesota, and the one tonight. That’s one in every 11 games,” said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. “I understand mistakes because I make a lot of them behind the bench, but when you get an explanation from a group of people and it didn’t happen, it’s disappointing. There is also protocol to follow in our league which is that you get together and you discuss it, and that didn’t happen either.”

Surviving a goal in the final 90 seconds of regulation from Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, the Predators stretched their record to 17-0-3 when scoring three or more goals in a game. While Nashville hasn’t found themselves in that position enough this season, they know how to hold a lead when they’re offense is clicking.

“There are a lot of teams that are high-flying with a lot of offense. We keep them to two goals and below, we’re a really good team in those tight games,” said Klein. “We did that tonight and came out on top.”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua