San Jose Sharks Ready For Final Tilt Against Nashville

May 7, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) makes a save against Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 7, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) makes a save against Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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San Jose will take part in their 10th Game 7 in franchise history looking to advance to their fourth Conference Finals as an organization.

So it all comes down to this for the San Jose Sharks.

Team teal’s season is on the line for the first time this year as they get ready to take on the Nashville Predators in Game 7 tonight at SAP Center.

San Jose is looking to bounce back after a rough night in Game 6 where Nashville was able to dictate the play for the final 45 minutes.

The Sharks will have the home crowd behind them in what’s sure to be a rocking Shark Tank where team teal has a 2-1 record all-time in Game 7’s.

Meanwhile, Nashville is participating in their second-ever Game 7 with their first coming in their first round triumph over the Anaheim Ducks, which also came on the road.

It’s do or die time for both these teams, and San Jose is looking to remain perfect against Nashville in postseason series and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011.

Players to Watch

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Sharks: Logan Couture. Couture is great to listen to as he usually tells you exactly what’s on his mind, good or bad. He’s been adamant that San Jose’s top guys have to be at their best for this team to be successful and look for him to back up his own words. Couture has been the Sharks best forward in this series with five goals and three assists, and is second behind Brent Burns with 14 points throughout these playoffs.

Predators: James Neal. Neal is an agitator for Nashville and the Predators seem to feed off the energy he brings. Neal is one part of a potent trio for the visitors that has terrorized the Sharks in this series. He has two goals and three assists to go along with 22 shots on goals for the Predators. His line will definitely be a top priority for the Sharks to shut down.

Keys to the Game

1. Goaltending

This is a fairly obvious one, but after watching the debacle in Dallas last night, it bears emphasizing. Martin Jones has been steady for San Jose throughout this postseason, but will need to be at his best tonight. Jones has been great at home with a 1.78 GAA and a .939 save percentage at SAP Center.

Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne has had his ups-and-downs in this postseason but has proven he can steal a game on any given night. He’s posted a 2.37 GAA and a .911 save percentage against San Jose in this series, but we’ve seen what he’s capable of when he stoned Anaheim in making 36 saves in Nashville’s Game 7 in round one.

The Sharks will have to get plenty of bodies of front and capitalize on their opportunities to make life difficult on the Predators netminder.

2. Neutral Zone

This will be the critical area to watch in this game as San Jose has to control this area of the ice. In Game 5, the Sharks dominated the middle of the ice while they were brutal in Game 6.

San Jose has to be sharp and crisp in breaking out of their own zone to gather the speed to be able to go on the attack.

Conversely, the Sharks defensemen have to be more aggressive in standing up the Predators in the neutral zone and at their own blue line to take away the time and space from Nashville.

This will be a determining factor as the team that is able to get through the neutral zone cleanly is likely the one that will dictate the action tonight.

Next: Sharks: How We Arrived At Game 7

3. Just Win Baby

To steal the Raiders mantra, just win baby! It doesn’t matter how you do it, just go out and get the job done. It doesn’t matter if you’re up or down, just keep grinding until the final whistle blows.

The Sharks have been rewriting their franchise narrative all season long so continue altering that perception with a big win tonight.