The Sharks and Predators are set to due battle in Game 7 later tonight as they wrap up their Western Conference semifinals series.
It’s been a heck of a series thus far between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators as they will battle it out tonight for the right to take on the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Finals.
While San Jose will feel like they’ve missed a couple of opportunities already, they’ve got one game to flip the narrative surrounding team teal.
With Game 7 upon us, let’s take a look back at how we got to this point with the season on the line.
It was a slow start to this series for the Sharks who were sluggish out of the gates following a week-long layoff. Despite that fact, San Jose was able to erupt for a five-goal third period to take Game 1 in convincing fashion, before hanging on to defeat Nashville in Game 2 even though they were outplayed for much of the contest.
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When the series shifted back to Music City, team teal had to like their position considering they were the best road team in the NHL. They didn’t play like it in Game 3 as the Predators stormed back with four unanswered goals to cut the Sharks series lead in half.
Then, the turning point in this series came in Game 4 as these two teams battled it out for nearly five hours. First, San Jose came back after trailing twice early, before Nashville would strike with less than five minutes remaining to send things into overtime.
The Sharks thought they had won the game when Joe Pavelski slammed home his own rebound, but it was controversially waved off due to goalie interference so they would play on.
Unfortunately, Mike Fisher would score the game-winner just past the midway point of the third overtime session and we had a series on our hands once again.
In Game 5, the Sharks came out like gang-busters and dominated the Predators from start to finish with a resounding 5-1 victory. When the boys in teal would take a 2-0 lead early in Game 6, it looked promising for San Jose.
However, this gritty Nashville team refused to go away coming back twice to force overtime before Viktor Arvidsson’s backhander forced tonight’s decisive contest.
For San Jose, it’s all about their special teams. The Sharks power play has been deadly throughout these playoffs going 6-for-18 against this Predators team. What’s gone overlooked is how their penalty kill has responded after allowing a goal in each of the first three games.
Team teal has now killed off nine consecutive power plays, and is 16-for-19 (84.2 percent) throughout this series.
Also, the first goal will be important as teams have a 74 percent winning percentage all-time in Game 7’s. The Sharks have actually scored first in four out of the six games, and they’ll be looking to do the same tonight.
Finally, the biggest advantage for San Jose is their play on home ice. These teams have been different animals in their own barns, and the Sharks have won four-straight at SAP Center.
Team teal has averaged 3.40 goals per game, second-best in the league, at home throughout these playoffs, while the Predators are the worst team remaining in the postseason at scoring on the road with just 2.14 goals per game (15 goals in seven games).
It’s not just offense as the Sharks goaltending has been much, much better at the Shark Tank. San Jose has allowed just nine goals in five games with Martin Jones posting a .939 save percentage.
On the flip side, the Predators have given up 23 goals in seven road games with an .895 save percentage.
Despite falling apart in Game 6, San Jose has shown the ability to score against this Nashville team. The Sharks have seemed to figure out how to play on home ice, and they will feed off the energy and crowd at the Tank tonight.
San Jose has proven to be a resilient squad all year long and will add another chapter to that story with a 4-2 victory tonight.