It was déjà vu for the Nashville Predators coming into the contest at the HP Pavilion Tuesday night against the Sharks. Like many Western Conference teams, the Predators were fighting for their playoff lives having lost six times in their last eight.
And while the previous matchup between the two teams on Feb. 15 was a completely different date, the ending looked all too familiar to Pekka Rinne.
The Sharks power play, ranked third in the league, has struggled of late, converting just once in their last 12 chances with the man advantage. The slump has coincided with the injury sustained by Dan Boyle Feb. 23rd against the Penguins.
Head coach Todd McLellan would mix things up, putting Ian White and Devin Setoguchi on the top power-play line. Ryane Clowe opened the scoring at 8:17 in the first, scoring his 19th of the season on a deflection by Dany Heatley that bounced off Clowe’s skate and past Rinne.
The power play would strike again as Justin Braun tallied to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead four minutes into the second period on the O’Brien hooking penalty.
In a back-and-forth affair, the Sharks missed on several scoring chances in regulation and looked to be headed to overtime.
The Clowe-Heatley-Couture line dominated the third period, and without the efforts of Pekka Rinne, could have easily put this game away.
Someone forgot to tell Patrick Marleau, who scored the game winner and his 27th goal of the season just three minutes into overtime.
Swooping up the Kostitsyn rebound, Marleau skated the puck down the ice and let a wrister go that snapped up high on Rinne.
"That's what Patty does," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's leading us in goals now and he's scored some big ones down the stretch.”
Despite a sluggish start, the Sharks rose to the occasion once again late taking play in the third to the Predators who only recorded four shots in the period.
The Sharks home-ice advantage is back in full swing after struggling early in the season, which bodes well for their March schedule. With the win, the Sharks inch within a point of the second-seeded Red Wings who face the Kings at home tomorrow.
What worked :
Antti Niemi: Another win for Nemo where he did not see much action late but saved the Sharks bacon early through a big Nashville surge.
He's in command, sees the puck so well through screens and made some huge saves in the first period. What else can you really say about Nemo in the new year?
He's playing so well that it's almost become boring to talk about his performance, it's funny in a way.
Justin Braun / Demers: Both played a very solid game and look pretty confident in the place of Dan Boyle. Braun missed another near goal late in the third with the Sharks pouring it on, could he be Logan Couture 2.0 this year in the playoffs?
Patrick Marleau: Captain Clutch did it again and did it in classic Marleau form, streaking away in OT and putting home the game-winner.
Game Notes: Antti Niemi recorded his 26th victory of the season, matching his rookie year with the Blackhawks a year ago. Todd McLellan picked up his 143rd victory of his career, just nine wins short of the all-time record for an NHL coach in three seasons.
Up Next :
For the Sharks, it’s another signature game, another big test and another huge opponent in the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks (43-16-9) beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 on a Dan Hamhuis goal in overtime for their third straight win.