Tonight has been a excellent night of playoff hockey. Both Western Semifinals have needed overtime. In the first one, the Stars found a way to even the series against the Blues.
Cody Eakin finished off a Patrick Sharp pass with a wicked shot high to the short side beating Brian Elliott at 2:58- allowing Dallas to come back and win 3-2 in Game Four. Kari Lehtonen previously bailed him out after he fell down. It was Lehtonen’s big stop that prevented the Blues from taking a 3-1 series lead.
In Nashville, the Predators are in sudden death which is starting right now against San Jose. They are there due to their energetic and passionate fans who inspired James Neal to even Game Four at three apiece with 4:21 left in regulation. Neal buried home a Ryan Ellis rebound from Colin Wilson, taking advantage of a Paul Martin turnover. Pekka Rinne then stoned Joe Thornton.
Here we go… the first minute and the tams are out looking to take advantage. Logan Couture nearly sets up Joe Pavelski, who steers it wide.
Couture again comes but a pass misses connection. Nashville tries to counter but San Jose has it back at the 18:30 mark. End to end so far. Very fast pace.
The Preds’ cohesive Swede line is out forechecking three minutes in. Both Calle Jarnkrok and Viktor Arvidsson create chances. Arvidsson had two rebound tries but couldn’t beat Martin Jones, who held the post with help from his D.
Roman Josi leads a rush that causes more tension with the Predator fans right behind them. 17 minutes left.
Nashville has looked better so far. They need this game to even the series. As I type that, Joel Ward- my overtime San Jose pick had a great wrap around and was denied. Then Donskoi had a huge chance but somehow a diving Rinne got it and Ryan Ellis helped him keep it out. Wow! Phew. It never went in. And the ref didn’t rule goal either. They review it. But it’s all for naught. Still tied 3-3 with 15:52 left.
12:07 AM here on the East coast in Staten Island, NYC. And finally a face off won by the Preds, who are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Here comes Fisher with a rush but Martin denies him. Martin has had an interesting night. Two helpers but a costly turnover on Neal’s turnover.
Now, Arvidsson nearly sets up Ryan Johansen, who just is denied by Jones. Great chances so far and we’re not even six minutes in. 14:44 to go in the first OT. Correction. Johansen’s shot rang off the far post. Jones’ best friend. Nashville has hit four posts according to CBC’s Chris Cuthbert. An excellent playcaller who I like paired with Joe Micheletti, who seems more comfortable than with Sam Rosen on MSG.
Courture with a hell of a move beating the Preds D. But Rinne denied him. Oh my. What a rush. Then a couple of more chances for his line but they can’t bury it. This was beautiful. Couture beat Ellis. And then Rinne with a great sliding pad stack with help from his D. This overtime is insane.
13:18 left and both Cuthbert and Micheletti are gushing over what they’ve seen. And why not.
12:13 EST Under 13 minutes to go, Preds with a centering opportunity but nothing happens. Now a face off in the San Jose zone. As the organist just played the theme from Mike Tyson’s Punchout. How classic is that? Little Mac must be proud.
A Josi shot is blocked. Now back the other way and Thornton makes a great pass for a shot. And Joe Pavelski believes he’s won it at 7:34. Due to Pavelski bumping into Rinne as he put in a rebound that banked in off Josi. The first shot came from Tomas Hertl. Pavelski then gets to the rebound and knocks it in as he’s down. Puck crossed after Pavelski made contact with Rinne.
Honestly, the puck was going in. Rinne had no chance. It’s a tough job for the refs, who blew the whistle for contact made from Pavelski. There is 12:26 left. The officials need indisputable evidence to overturn the decision on the ice. Wow.
Now the refs are reviewing for interference. It’s tough. Pavelski got a shove from behind by Paul Gaustad. He gloves the puck out of mid-air down and then has the presence to get a stick on it. But makes contact with Rinne before the puck crossed. The officials get it right. It’s goaltender interference. If the puck was in, that’s game over.
12:26 left If the puck had gone in first, I would say it would be ruled a goal. Unfortunate for Pavelski and the Sharks. Huge break for the Predators.
12:20 EST Back to live hockey as a puzzled Pete DeBoer looks on. I can understand his gripe. But it’s back to live hockey. Game continues. I wonder if they should consider a rule change on such plays.
It’s the Sharks fore checking here. Ward is out with Donskoi. But the Preds come out. Filip Forsberg now takes it deep. Ellis pinches in. Marc-Edouard Vlasic just had an oops moment. Looks like he cleared it over and out. He did. On his backhand. Delay of game penalty. I hate these calls. Especially in sudden death. It is what it is.
Nashville power play with 10:58 left. What happens to the stoppage where they clean the ice if the Preds don’t score?
Mattias Ekholm with a tremendous effort to deny a shorthanded bid. He really is so underrated. He has been a beast these playoffs for the Preds on that second pair. Three goals in the postseason. Strong heady play. Josi fires wide. Craig Smith stopped. Then Josi flat out denied by an aggressive Jones. Jones has been something else in his first postseason.
More furious action as Nashville firing the kitchen sink at Jones. And he just won’t break. Denies Shea Weber. Stops Forsberg. Shuts the door on Colin Wilson. Wow. That’s at least five big saves.
9:14 left and the Sharks are gonna survive. They can thank Jones.
Finally a whistle with 8:43 left. Tomas Hertl passed back for Brent Caveman Burns but he was offside. Now, the stoppage for them to clean the ice. I hate it. But this is now the rule. So, a commercial break and more money for NBC.
After a break, they are back at it. As some Blues Brothers fires up a great crowd in Nashville. 8:29 to go in the first overtime.
Now Queen plays with the classic “We Will Rock You” the theme of the 80’s…especially for the ’86 Mets when they rallied to stun the Red Sox in that famed Game Six at Shea. Amazin’ to think it’s been 30 years.
Pavelski gets a chance but out of play with 8:14 left. Face off won by Nashville in their end. Back out to neutral zone. The Sharks now try to dump it deep but they didn’t gain center ice. It’s icing. So, Justin Braun made a mistake.
Ward to take the draw in his end and Mike Fisher wins it. But the Sharks come back with Donskoi, who I like. Vlasic fires a shot wide. And now, it’s Wilson to center and over the San Jose line. But nothing develops. Both teams finally seem to be tiring. How could they not?
7:00 remaining Another Nashville dump from Bitetto doesn’t make connection. Icing on the Preds. Now we are seeing mistakes. Nashville leads in shots 8-2 but the Sharks had the best chance to end it and nearly did but Pavelski’s goal was wiped out.
The Sharks have it and Pavelski with a dangerous shot wide and carom off the back boards. A redirect by Thornton goes wide. Now the Preds get it deep. Back and forth they go in what’s easily one of the best games of these playoffs.
The Sharks continue to pressure. But Nashville plays solid D to get out of harm’s way. Now it’s Donskoi again on the cycle. He really is everywhere. A Burns point shot is blocked wide. The Sharks are relentless. They might not have many shots getting through but they continue to pressure.
Under 5:00 left and Burns just had a great rush. But is denied. Wilson now with a rush of his own and centers for Fisher, who is denied by Jones. Jones is making some tremendous stops. Wilson has been everywhere for the Preds as has Fisher. Two of the best Preds.
3:59 remaining Rinne stops a Braun shot that is unscreened due to good defense in front. This is a tremendous series. Everything you could want.
Cuthbert updates that Neal has attempted 17 shots as Rinne kicks out a tricky chance. Rinne is as good at stopping the puck as any goalie. He is the reason Nashville is here over the Ducks, who axed a good man in Bruce Boudreau.
The Swede line with Neal now and they are relentless against San Jose. Josi is out too. The Preds with a tremendous shift. But San Jose gets out due to Nashville running out of gas. On the other side, Brendan Dillon is denied by a Rinne glove stop. Just fantastic action in what I’d call an amazing overtime.
2:39 remaining And the Preds win the face off. Ellis dumps it in. Martin plays for Couture who gets it out to Donskoi. The guy who continues to impress me. The Sharks hold it in as we approach 2:00. Finally cleared.
Rinne just robbed Hertl on a tough angle. He’s so athletic. Braun looking and passes across for Vlasic, who just decides to fire a long shot through to Rinne, who gets the whistle. Rinne had lost his stick on the Hertly save. And he was out of position but dove back and got it. Wow.
1:12 left The Preds come out with Smith attempting one that is blocked by Martin, who has recovered nicely from his turnover that allowed Neal to send it to OT.
30 seconds to go Looks like we could get double overtime. A shot whistles wide by the Preds. Couture knocked down as time is about to run out. Couture nearly sets up a Shark on a steal. But no one is home. The buzzer sounds.
Amazingly, we are headed to a second overtime. It is still tied 3-3 in Music City. Shots are 38-31 Preds.
12:42 AM here and I still have to go do another OT of live blogging. First, I’ll switch my picks. In the first overtime, I took Jarnkrok for the Preds and Ward for the Sharks. So, double overtime, it is:
12:44 AM Jeremy Roenick admits that the call on Pavelski could be “series changing.” He feels that the push from behind by Gaustad was the reason for Pavelski bumping into Rinne. And you know what. He is right. Pavelski contacts Rinne due to the push. The contact was coming and the puck was going in. They have to change the rule. Anson Carter also chimes in.
“He’s pushed in. That’s my only problem with the call.”
“It’s the safe call,” adds Roenick, who emphasizes how they have video which makes it easier for them to see. The refs have tough jobs. And the goalie interference call is one that must be adjusted.
As we approach nearly 1 AM here, it’s gonna be fun. Roenick takes the Sharks, who are relentless. JR goes Couture. Carter decides Nashville will prevail with Neal getting the winner. Double the trouble. Double the fun about to start up again.
12:55 EST They are about to get going in Music City again. 11:55 in Tennessee. So, who will the hero be? If it’s the Sharks, they take a commanding 3-1 lead back home. If it’s the Preds, they even up the series meaning the home team would win the first four games, putting pressure on San Jose to hold serve. Here we go!
Shot attempts: Nashville 84-68 notes Cuthbert. Wilson in on the cycle but San Jose has it. Hertl with a great move and gets the puck over to Pavelski for a quality chance. But Rinne denies him 35 seconds in.
A minute into period six. Smith with a shot blocked. Then battles to get back in but is shut down. A big San Jose turnover and Arvidsson missed high and wide. Point blank too. Wilson doing some more fore checking. These guys are relentless.
Over two minutes in and the Preds again look like the team early on with the best chances. But the Sharks now get it in deep. Some tough board work between. Thornton got his stick up on a Pred. It’s Miika Salomaki who takes the stick from Jumbo Joe and the refs do make the call.
Power play Nashville. Two minutes. No blood. 17:04 left. They keep redoing draws. Neither broadcaster like it. Sharks get a clear and the Preds now must regroup. Johansen got the puck to a cruising Neal but he fired it over the top. Another Sharks clear gets it to 1:00 left on the penalty kill.
Nashville playing it now. Weber to Forsberg. Forsberg plays catch with Smith. Good possession and movement. But no set ups or shots. San Jose won’t allow it. One more clear and that’s it. Thornton back at the 15-minute mark.
Arvidsson is everywhere for the Preds. Maybe they should try him on the power play. Kidding. I am impressed with his energy. The overtime chances are 6-5 Preds. This one is more defensive oriented and slower moving. Tactical. Not as many shots. It’s gonna be a mistake that decides it.
Predators are doing some good work. A collision behind the net between Neal and Martin results in zilch. Pavelski tries a move but is denied. Braun keeps it in. Hertl denied on the doorstep by Rinne, who is tremendous to watch.
Now it picks up with the Preds coming close. Playoff overtime is as good as it gets in sports. A wide Melker Karlsson shot caroms out and the Preds try to start something. Then it’s the Sharks with a chance but Tierney can’t deflect a centering pass on net.
Ellis with a couple of nice keeps. Then fires a tough, low shot that Jones is nervously able to cover up. It was tricky. Cuthbert had noted how Ellis, an offensive defenseman in World Junior for Canada, has never had an overtime goal.
A Vlasic shot is blocked. Smith tries to get a backhand off but nothing doing. Already 10 minutes played. That is how fast this second OT is going.
With 9:55 left, Rinne makes another great stop on a tricky and dangerous Pavelski shot from the slot. It was low. It was with a defenseman on him. It was tough. But Rinne has it. And that gives them another stoppage to clean the ice. They have played a total of 90:05 so far in Nashville. Game Four remains tied 3-3.
“Let’s Go Preds” is the chant from the Nashville crowd. A Thornton win leads to a Martin shot redirected off Rinne. Then a recovery leads to a long Martin point shot off the crossbar. San Jose that close to ending it.
A Sharks’ turnover causes a Smith chance that Jones is able to pad aside. More Predator pressure but no more shots. It’s now the Sharks back on the cycle with their energy line. But a blocked shot leads a transition. Lot more turnovers from each side in the neutral zone as a whistle for offsides with 7:58 remaining in the second overtime.
So, it continues with under eight minutes to go. Both teams make changes with 7:25 left. An icing by the Preds now with 7:09 left gives the Sharks another opportunity. DeBoer keeping Pavelski out with the dangerous Hertl. And yet another whistle on a face off. Odd.
Thornton in to take it. But a huge win for Jarnkrok prevents Jumbo Joe from going to a backhand to find Burns. Now an off side on San Jose with 7:02 left. Thornton’s beard has reached the Moses level. He looks so old with it. What would he look like if the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Final? One wonders. Ditto for Burns.
A Weber keep allows Nashville some fore check pressure. A Gaustad shot is deflected wide. Sharks out of trouble. They now are in on the attack with six minutes to go. But nothing comes of it. This is looking like it might go to triple overtime.
The Nashville crowd comes to life as they encourage their team. They played a role in Neal’s tying goal. Their enthusiasm and energy was tremendous. Rinne catches a Ward redirect with the glove. So calm, cool and collected as Eric Clapton’s classic “After Midnight” plays. So appropriate. It’s 12:20 AM in Music City.
Five minutes exactly and the Preds are on the fore check. Ekholm keeps but Couture clears for Ward. Now it’s Donskoi behind the net. Martin now sends it down low. Some good sledding by the guys in teal. Tommy Wingels had a man all alone but the redirect by Matt Nieto didn’t find twine. He was so wide open. Maybe not playing much was a factor.
Are you kidding me with that denial by Rinne on Hertl! After some set up by Thornton. What a pass by an all-time great. The save by Rinne was ridiculous. My god. The pass by Jumbo Joe was remarkable. But then the reply by Rinne. Wow!
The Sharks trying hard to end it here as three minutes hit. All sorts of pressure. But they still can’t find that winner. My god. What a tremendous push. San Jose is so tough with their offense. It’s amazing. But the Preds are hanging in thanks to Rinne and a gritty D.
That whole play was offside. Weber went in before the Pred got to the bench. But Weber hi-sticks Martin badly and bloodies him with 2:03 left. And it’s gotta be a double minor. Why? There’s blood everywhere. How could that be?
I am baffled by the call. But San Jose hasn’t protested. So maybe it’s the right call. Anyway, San Jose after a timeout with a great chance with 2:03 to go.
A Burns one-timer flies wide. Wow. Can he shoot it. My God. A goalie has no chance if it hits. Well, almost. He already has one. One minute to go and Burns winds up but it’s blocked. The Preds are not allowing the Sharks much set up time. They know it’s their postseason lives here. And they’re showing such desperation. I can’t say enough about the effort we are seeing from the guys in those ugly mustard colors. Wow.
14.1 seconds is enough time. Pavelski wins it. But the puck is sent wide. A Nashville clear results in a big ovation by a huge Nashville crowd. And wow. Is it deserved. The game of these playoffs. And we are going to a third overtime as predicted in this live blog. I am at over 3100 words so far. Who needs sleep!
Triple overtime will happen as it passes 1:30 AM in NYC. My 3rd overtime picks to John Buccigross in the #Bucciovertimechallenge:
I am going with two gritty guys over the skill ones. At this point, it’s usually those types that decide such long games.
San Jose and Nashville have now played 100 minutes of hockey in Game Four. Whoever prevails should get huge momentum for Game Five. If the Preds find a way to win this and the longer it goes I feel they will, they could carry it forward and steal a game in San Jose.
1:42 AM here in Staten Island, NYC half an hour from the greatest city alive. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. New York, New York!
I had to run upstairs for my laptop charger to keep energy going. I didn’t miss much luckily. Almost a minute in. Gotta think it ends soon.
Shot attempts are now 98-95. The Sharks have come back in that department. A Thornton shows sails wide. … Marleau fore checking. He’s been kinda quiet. Marleau had a backhand wrap around wide open with Rinne out but couldn’t quite get it to go.
The longest game in Preds history officially. They have never won a playoff overtime game. Interesting. Will it happen?
Donskoi is my pick for the Sharks. I like how he plays. I took Arvidsson for similar reasons for the Preds. Good energy guys who are around the puck and the net.
On the replay, Josi got the Marleau attempt with his skate sending it wide. Actually, it was his stick. My god.
16:26 left in triple overtime
A Thornton low shot is kicked out by Rinne, who is just so fundamentally sound. I find him more fun to watch than Lundqvist. No disrespect to Hank. But I just find Rinne more entertaining. He has a Hasek-like quality to him in how he plays the position. The Dominator is my all-time favorite goalie. Mike Richter of course is second. Then Henrik.
I am almost at 3500 words in this live blog. Holy cow. 😮
The time keeps moving and these teams keep going. Nothing is separating them. They continue to try to find the winner. There are blocks that are just huge because they deny bids to end it. Micheletti praises Couture for such a block that allowed the Sharks to escape trouble and start a transition. Blocked shots do that. This isn’t Flyers/Pens Keith Primeau in the fifth overtime. It’s even more hectic.
San Jose pressuring heavily and then a turnover. Here comes Wilson with a breakaway in on Jones. And what a stop by Jones, denying the Wilson backhand, deke. He tried to go five-hole. But a sliding denial with the pad by Jones and underneath with 12:42 left!
With 12:01 left, we have a penalty. But it appears it’s on Nashville. Weber knocked down Tierney in front into Rinne. A dumb penalty. Selfish. Undisciplined by the Preds’ captain. Very bad timing too because it brings the ever dangerous Sharks’ power play. And puts Weber in the box. A double whammy for the Preds.
It could end here. They play appropriately enough “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. And that’s what it’ll take for Nashville to prevent the end.
A clean face off win to Burns for that howitzer. Rinne with the stop. Puck cleared. Another set up and Rinne again with a save. He is amazing.
This power play is good. Dangerous. They had Burns set up again but he sent it wide. Vlasic lost control of the puck, allowing a breather for the Preds PK. Looks like they could survive. The crowd is ready to erupt. And they do as another clear does it. Man oh man. They have played over 110 minutes and still tied at three.
A great chance for Smith in front but it’s blocked. I mean that could be game over. Then he gets set up in front by Johansen but missed. Point blank too. My god. And an icing gets a whistle. There are under 10 minutes left. And still they go on. Another stoppage.
9:21 left On the replay, Roman Polak blocked Smith’s attempt in front. Polak was picked up at the deadline by San Jose from Toronto, solidifying the Sharks’ D corps.
They have played 55 minutes and 10 seconds since Neal tied it. A note from Cuthbert, who is excellent describing it.
And finally it ends! Mike Fisher on the rebound puts it home to give the Predators a much needed Game Four win by a score of 4-3! The grit of a determined player who is always willing to get dirty. So, history is made.
Excited fans throw their mustard yellow towels on the ice in jubilation. Ekholm sent the shot on Jones, who couldn’t quite control the rebound. And Fisher tallies at 111:12 of the third overtime from Ekholm. They call it unassisted. But I doubt it.
It is Fisher’s second career playoff OT goal. And I am almost at 4,000 words. Fisher talking with Micheletti. A hard working guy that’s easy to admire.
“Second game I’ve played with Neal. And Colin Wilson’s been unbelievable.”
“Just rest up. Get fluids. As far as the game, just keep it simple. Don’t turn pucks over. Don’t sit back too much.”
More Fisher: “Trying to block as many shots, especially Burns getting it through there. … Take away as many shots as possible. And Pekka was unbelievable.”-On the Sharks’ power play
Shots favored the Sharks 47-45.
Rinne finishes with 44 saves
Jones with 41.
Shot Attempts: Sharks 111 Predators 102
Hits: Sharks 34 Predators 39
Blocked Shots: Sharks 34 Predators 39
Face Offs: Sharks 44 Predators 58
It all adds up to a well earned Predators’ 4-3 triple overtime win in Game Four over the Sharks, evening the entertaining and hardly fought best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series at 2-2. The home team has won all four games. Now, the pressure is squarely on San Jose for a pivotal Game Five on Saturday night. We’ll see what they’re made of.
For Nashville, it’s their first ever playoff win in overtime. They have the momentum. Can they ride it? Or will the Sharks be able to recover in front of a great atmosphere at HP Pavilion? We shall see.
After 4223 words, I am done. Good night.