NASHVILLE – If there were ever a time that the Sharks would utilize their energy advantage after having a week off following the first round, as well as playing their key guys fewer minutes than Nashville's throughout their second-round series, Game 4’s triple overtime against the Predators would be it.
And, as it turned out, that was the case. Throughout more than 51 minutes of extra time on Thursday night/Friday morning at Bridgestone Arena, the Sharks were the better team for the majority of it, and had the more dangerous scoring chances. After the game, Logan Couture commented that the Sharks played their “best two periods of the series” after the third period horn. San Jose outshot the Preds 25-18 throughout the overtimes.
It didn’t result in a win, of course, as Mike Fisher’s rebound goal tied the series at two games apiece, giving Nashville a 4-3 win in the second-longest game in Sharks franchise history.
“I thought we found our legs. … It’s tough we couldn’t find a way,” Couture said. “We had about five or six Grade-A chances. That’s the way playoff hockey goes sometimes.”
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Pete DeBoer said: “We had multiple chances to end the game – quality chances. We didn’t stick one in. You have to tip your hat to [Nashville goalie Pekka] Rinne, he made some saves at the right time, and they capitalized on a mistake. I liked our game tonight, and we’ve got to bring that to Game 5.”
Whether a team can carry momentum from game to game in a playoff series has always been a debatable point. From the Sharks' perspective, they could take some pride in the way they played after the first period. Nashville, though, will hope to carry those good feelings from Thursday’s emotional triumph into Game 5 in San Jose on Saturday.
There were differing opinions on whether any of that matters headed into what will be the most important game of the series.
“It’s tough to build from game to game. Each game is a brand new animal,” Couture said. “Momentum kind of dies once the game ends. You’ve got to restart and get ready to go for the next one. Hopefully the Shark Tank is full and loud.”
Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, whose slap shot resulted in Fisher’s score, believes the Predators will get a boost from the way they captured Game 4.
"A win like this gives a boost of energy to everyone,” said the defenseman. “We knew if we [lost] this game it’s down 3-1, and that’s a tough break. Now it’s 2-2, and it’s really open again. I think it just gives you an extra boost. If we would have won 5-1 it would have been nice, but when you win it like this, it’s obviously extra nice.”
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Both clubs opted to stay overnight in Nashville after Game 4 and fly to San Jose on Friday. Neither team will skate, as the players do their best to recover from playing nearly a full game extra into the early hours of Friday morning.
For the Sharks, it won’t be their last lengthy flight now that Game 6 is guaranteed. They’ll try to regain the series lead at home on Saturday, where they have won their last three, including games one and two against the Preds.
“It’s a tough way to lose, but we’ve got to go home and we’ve got to do a job,” Joe Pavelski said. “The series doesn’t get easier, it only gets harder. We’ve got to step up our game and get a big win on home ice, and go from there.”
Martin Jones said: “Nothing we can really do now, other than move on and get ready for the next one.”