In the second longest game in franchise history, the Sharks fell in triple overtime to Nashville, 4-3, knotting up the series at two.
The San Jose Sharks came away with nothing to show for their more than 111-minute effort Thursday night, losing in devastating fashion in the third overtime on Mike Fisher’s second goal of the night. It wound up as the longest game in Nashville Predators history and the second longest for San Jose.
The way the game started was the same way it ended – a Nashville goal. Colin Wilson continued his playoff dominance, scoring just 41 seconds into the game to give the Preds an early lead.
But the Nashville lead wouldn’t last for long, as Brent Burns sniped one in an Ovechkin-esque manner past Pekka Rinne just over two minutes later to knot things up again.
Goals kept coming in the period, with Fisher getting on the board next for the Predators. It was yet another rebound goal, which has been a common occurrence in this series for both groups.
From there, the teams settled down and played a more tactical style following the non-stop, back-and-forth first period. Late in the second period, Joonas Donskoi slapped one fairly wide of the net but was fortunate to see it deflect off Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis into the net. After two, team teal and the Preds were back at square one with two goals apiece.
Burns took matters into his own hands on a power play 6:48 into the final frame, giving the Sharks their first lead of the game on another deflection off of a Predator and past Rinne. The two goals gave the Norris Trophy candidate points 12 and 13 for the playoffs which leads all blue-liners. Logan Couture assisted on both Burns goals with Joe Thornton and Paul Martin each adding helpers on one of his goals as well. Martin would also notch an assist on the Donskoi goal, earning him his ninth multi-point game of his playoff career.
The game seemed destined for a 3-2 Sharks victory which would have put the Predators in a huge 3-1 hole in the series, but James Neal had other thoughts on a puck that bounced right to him on an Ellis shot from the point. It was Neal’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
The fireworks were just getting underway though, as the game would last more than 50 more minutes after the regulation-buzzer sounded.
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Hectic would be a good word to describe the first OT. Both teams had plentiful chances, including a Ryan Johansen shot from just a few feet out that bounced off the right post and eventually cleared. Then, the real controversy of the night came.
It began when Joe Pavelski skated at full speed from the blue line toward a loose puck in front of the net that Rinne hadn’t controlled. Pavelski was cross-checked from behind and tripped by Shea Weber almost simultaneously just as he reached the loose puck, consequently flying into Rinne head first. But as he was on top of Rinne, he would find the puck that he had already touched with his hand, lift his stick from his waist and hit it into the net just as it was crossing the goal-line. If he hadn’t hit it in with his stick, it would not have counted as the ref ruled that his hand was what would have put the puck into the net.
Yet, he would guide the puck in the net with his stick before the puck-crossed, which is legal. However, the referees would decide upon goalie interference after a lengthy review, even though Pavelski looked to be cross-checked and tripped by two separate Predators into Rinne, taking away the would-have-been game-winning goal.
So, the teams would battle it out throughout the next 40 minutes or so, with each team getting some quality chances along the way, including Martin Jones stopping a Wilson breakaway shot with his stick to save his squad for the time being. But just minutes later, Fisher would end the historically-long game midway through the third extra period on yet another rebound.
Jones has had a lot of trouble giving up too many rebounds this series and especially tonight, but this loss was not on him. He saved 40 of 44 shots that came his way and made several big saves that kept the Sharks alive.
No doubt this was a devastating loss for San Jose, who had a chance to go up 3-1 and put away Nashville at home in Game Five, but it’s a 2-2 series now. The Sharks have got to go into Game Five with the mentality that it’s 0-0 and it’s Game One. Mentally that might be doable, but coming off a game like this, all players have got to be exhausted. It’s an extremely difficult way to lose, but in some sense can be spin-zoned into somewhat of a positive for Sharks fans. Now, at least we’ll see if team teal has the fortitude and strength to win Game Five when many may be counting them out after falling in such an emotional game and losing two straight.
Game Five will be Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. PDT.