Nashville, TN – They don’t get any easier at this stage of the NHL season, but the Nashville Predators, behind goalie Juuse Saros, gutted out the win over the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena, 5-3 tonight.
The win prevents the Sharks from clinching a playoff spot.
Back up goalie Juuse Saros, who started in place of Pekka Rinne, put on a clinic in goal with 39 saves.
The win gives Nashville 111 points on the season as their quest for the President’s Trophy continues. Players and coaches have made no secret that they want that trophy and with it, home ice for the Stanley Cup playoffs.Kyle Turris started the scoring for the Predators at 5:26 of the first period, netting a rebound for the 1-0 lead. P.K Subban and Craig Smith assisted on the goal.
San Jose’s Logan Couture tied the game at 6:55 on a bullet fired from the slot, beating Saros for the 1-1 tie.
Viktor Arvidsson gave the Predators the 2-1 lead at 10:14 of the first period playing a little “give and go” with his favorite linemate, Ryan Johansen, and Nashville took the lead once again.
Not to be outdone, the Sharks came right back for the equalizer.
Brenden Dillon tied the game at 12:05, ripping a shot past Saros from the point, game tied, 2-2.
Nashville would regain the lead on Craig Smith’s goal at 10:38 of the second period, helping the Predators retake the lead, 3-2. Smith would take the rebound off of Ryan Ellis’s shot on goal for the tally.
Mikkel Boedker would have an answer for San Jose at 5:54 of the third period after a mad scramble in front of Saros resulted in the goal, tying the game at 3-3.
As the Sharks were turning up the heat, desperately trying to earn a spot in the playoffs, Ryan Ellis would step up to score the game winner at 10:06 of the third period. His slap shot would slip through the five hole of San Jose goalie Martin Jones for the 4-3 Predators lead.
Jones would have 27 saves on the night.
Having to once again fight off a penalty with less than three minutes in the game, Nashville would finally secure the puck and Nick Bonino would score the empty netter for the final score, 5-3.
The Predators are proving they are one of the elite teams in the NHL, showing veteran leadership and character as the regular season winds down. Staying out of the penalty box though is something they must reckon with before the playoffs begin.
Earlier in the day, Nashville’s Austin Watson was named the team’s nominee for the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Professional Hockey Association.
The Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game of hockey.
The team also announced the signing of much heralded forward Eeli Tolvannen to an entry-level three year contract. Selected 30th overall in the 2017 NHL draft, Tolvannen comes from the Kontinental Hockey League after his team was eliminated from the KHL playoffs.
Nashville will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drops at 7:00pm.