SAN JOSE -– It’s typically a bad sign in the postseason when you throw everything but the kitchen sink at your opponent, yet still can’t find a way to come out on top.
That’s where the Nashville Predators find themselves after Game 2 of their second round series with San Jose. While the tone in the Sharks’ dressing room afterwards was that they know they’ll have to be better, the Predators and coach Peter Laviolette seemed pleased with the way they competed in a 3-2 loss at SAP Center on Sunday night.
Frankly, if they play that game 10 times, Nashville probably wins eight of them.
“I think we were the better team out there tonight, especially in the second, late in the first and in the third,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “We should be encouraged by the way we played tonight.”
Laviolette said: “Tonight was our best game since Game 6 [of the Anaheim series, a 3-1 win]. We had a lot of chances from in tight. Good scoring chances from the zone. We had screens, we had point shots – we did a lot of good things.”
It wasn’t enough, as San Jose became the only one of the eight remaining playoff teams to gain a two-games-to-none lead. The other three series are tied 1-1 headed into Monday night.
As the series shifts to Nashville, the Sharks may have the Predators right where they want them. San Jose is a perfect 3-0 on the road in the playoffs after three wins at Staples Center, and won a league-leading 28 in the regular season.
Conversely, even though Game 2 wasn’t a beauty, the Sharks have three straight victories at SAP Center. That happened just once in the regular season, a four-game home winning streak in March, as San Jose stumbled to just an 18-20-3 mark at SAP Center.
“Coming into these playoffs there was a lot of talk about our home record,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve come out, we’ve played hard, the fans have been great, a lot of energy in the building. It’s good to see some wins.”
Paul Martin said: “It’s big to take two at home. Obviously we have a long way to go and it’s a good team over there, [but] to get that was important. We’ll build off that if we continue to play well on the road.”
Improving on their puck management will be at the top of the Sharks’ list for Game 3. That sloppiness was a primary reason Nashville generated 39 shots on goal to the Sharks’ 25, including 29 in the second and third periods.
“There were a lot of turnovers in our game, both coming through the neutral zone, at our own blue line, at the offensive blue line,” Tommy Wingels said. “In games past where we’ve won, we’ve simplified it. We’ve gotten pucks deep. Your linemates know where pucks are going to go. We got away from that.”
From Nashville’s point of view, they’ll have to stay out of the penalty box, although they probably knew that already before Game 2. The Sharks’ power play is humming, scoring another goal late in the second period from Couture and controlling the puck in the offensive zone for virtually the entire two minutes on an earlier advantage. They are 3-for-5 in the series, and 8-for-26 in the playoffs (30.8 percent).
“I thought we played a good five-on-five game,” Roman Josi said. “We have to say out of the box. They are so dangerous on the power play.”
In the first round up two-games-to-none, the Sharks saw Los Angeles’ best effort in Game 3, a 2-1 overtime win for the Kings. Pavelski expects the Predators to turn it up even more at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night.
“We understand this series is only to get tougher,” said the captain. “These guys are going to go home. They’ve been on the road a little bit. We have to pick up our desperation a little bit and play a better game than we did [in Game 2].”
Ekholm said: “There two games at home now for us. Bottom line we just need to score a few more goals - you aren't going to win hockey games by scoring one goal or two goals.”