SAN JOSE –- The Sharks scored five times in the third period, including a pair by Logan Couture, coming from behind to capture Game 1 of their second round playoff series with Nashville on Friday at SAP Center, 5-2.
Mike Fisher’s second period power play goal held up as the only score through two periods, but the Sharks answered that with Tomas Hertl’s man advantage marker at 2:37 of the third. Joel Ward pushed the puck down low to the third year forward, who spun around and found just enough space inside the near post at 2:37.
Ward gave San Jose its first lead with 8:11 left. He froze Pekka Rinne in the slot before deftly maneuvering the puck over the goal line for his first of the playoffs to go along with five assists.
Couture added the insurance with 4:20 left with San Jose’s second power play goal, redirecting in a Joe Pavelski centering pass for his second of the playoffs.
It held up as the game-winner, as Ryan Johansen brought the Predators back to within 3-2 when Roman Josi’s shot rattled around deflected in off of the former Blue Jacket at 18:11.
Couture’s empty net goal 20 seconds later, though, sealed the win for San Jose. Tommy Wingels added another for good measure in the final minute.
The Sharks, who have won three straight, host Game 2 at SAP Center on Sunday (5 p.m.).
Fisher opened the scoring. With Matt Nieto in the box for tripping, Fisher ripped a wrist shot from the circle high over Martin Jones at 4:33 for his second of the playoffs.
San Jose had a chance to tie it later in the middle frame, but despite a long shift in the offensive zone by the top unit and five shots on Rinne, it remained a 1-0 Nashville lead after two.
San Jose kept pressing after that, and nearly took the lead when Wingels’ shot hit traffic in front and kissed the goal post with about nine minutes left. It sat in the crease before Anthony Bitetto cleared it out of the blue paint.
That only delayed the inevitable, though, as San Jose dominated the second and third periods.
Each goaltender made some impressive stops in a scoreless first period. Jones got his right pad across in time to deny Viktor Arvidsson on a wraparound try with about seven minutes to go, and denied James Neal from the high slot in the final minute.
Rinne flashed the leather on a pair of saves late in the frame, snagging a Joe Thornton tip try and then grabbing a Brent Burns buzzer from high in the zone as time expired.
The Sharks announced a less-than-capacity crowd of 17,036.
The Sharks scored two power play goals on three opportunities, and are 7-for-24 in the playoffs.
The Predators, who had just one goal in 26 power plays against the Ducks, finished the night 1-for-2.
Jones improved to 5-1 in the playoffs with 29 saves. His biggest came late in the second, when he swallowed up a Colin Wilson wrist shot after the Nashville forward was flying up the wing.
Rinne fell to 19-23 in his playoff career, and 4-4 this season, allowing three goals on 36 shots. Carter Hutton played the final few seconds for the Preds after Wingels’ empty netter.
Rinne entered with a 10-5-4 record, 1.80 GAA and .945 SP in 20 career regular season games against the Sharks.
Nashville’s Craig Smith, who did not take part in the morning skate, was scratched. Smith missed two games in the first round with a lower body injury, but returned to play in games six and seven against Anaheim.
Eric Nystrom made his playoff debut for Smith.
The Sharks have not altered their active lineup through six games.
After Sunday’s home game, the series will shift to Nashville for games at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday and Thursday of next week.
San Jose is 11-6 all-time when winning the first game of a playoff series, including the first round against Los Angeles.