After scoring just one goal with the man advantage in their first-round series, Nashville has struck for three against San Jose.
All the talk heading into Game 3 of this Western Conference semifinals series centered around the San Jose Sharks and their lethal power play. However, it was the Nashville Predators power play that took center stage on Tuesday night, paving the way for a big 4-1 victory to the cut their deficit in half in this best-of-seven, second-round series.
The area of concern for San Jose is their penalty kill isn’t getting the job done. While the Sharks have struggled on the penalty kill all year, ranking 21st in the regular season, they’re allowing the Predators to establish zone time and momentum whenever they have the man advantage.
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Throughout these playoffs, team teal has allowed six goals on 24 opportunities, good for just a 75 percent success rate. Amongst the teams remaining, the Dallas Stars are the only team behind them in this category.
In this series alone, San Jose has surrendered three goals on 10 chances for Nashville, including two goals that proved to be the difference-maker in last night’s victory for the Predators.
What makes this more frustrating from a Sharks perspective is Nashville was flat-out awful on the power play in their first-round series against Anaheim. The Predators went 1-for-26 (3.85 percent) over the course of that seven-game series, but have found their stride against San Jose.
Granted, the Ducks were the number one penalty-killing unit in all of the NHL during the regular season, but the Sharks seem too passive right now. The Predators are able to whip the puck around and set up one of their defensemen to unleash their patented one-timers at Martin Jones.
One way team teal can help their penalty-killers out is to stay out of the penalty box, something that was too frequent an occurrence in Game 3. The Sharks were shorthanded five times heading into last night’s contest but took an uncharacteristic five penalties alone in Game 3.
San Jose can’t spend that much time exerting energy on the penalty kill against a Nashville team that likes to grind the game out and wear down their opponents. If the Sharks can do a better job of remaining more disciplined, it will go a long way in helping their overall game.
After the first three games against L.A., San Jose found themselves in a similar position with a two games-to-one lead and having allowed three power-play goals in those three contests. The Sharks responded in the next two games, killing off all three penalties against and defeating the Kings in five games.
There’s no need to panic for team teal as they have an opportunity to rebound after a tough Game 3 performance and show that their penalty kill can be just as effective as their power play.