NASHVILLE – Patrick Marleau opened the scoring, but Nashville responded with four unanswered goals to get back into its second round series with the Sharks on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena in a 4-1 final.
San Jose saw it’s four-game playoff winning streak come to an end, but still leads the series, two-games-to-one. Game 4 is at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
The Preds scored a pair of second period goals to take a 2-1 lead.
Joonas Donskoi went to the penalty box for a double-minor for whacking James Neal at 2:19, and Neal made him pay with a one-timer set up by Mattias Ekholm at 5:11.
Donskoi was involved in Nashville’s second goal, too, when he was stripped of the puck in the neutral zone by Ryan Johansen, leading to a Predators rush that Shea Weber finished off with a bullet from between the circles that beat Martin Jones up high at 14:44. It came during a four-on-four situation, with Matt Nieto and Craig Smith both serving minor penalties.
Some soft defensive zone coverage allowed Nashville to take a 3-1 lead in the third. Colin Wilson managed to slide home a rebound at 6:55, while a floating Brent Burns looked on from between the circles.
Filip Forsberg’s power play goal at 15:49 of the third, the first of the series for Nashville’s leading goal scorer in the regular season, put to rest any thought of a late San Jose comeback.
Trailing 2-1 to start the third, San Jose had a few good chances but couldn’t tie it up. Melker Karlsson jammed a puck through Rinne that skimmed through the crease just above the goal line, and a few minutes later Rinne got a piece of a Tommy Wingels shot on a two-on-one rush.
For the first time in the series the Sharks’ power play let them down, taking an 0-for-4. San Jose had been 3-for-5 through the first two games.
San Jose had the only goal of the first period. Marleau charged through Weber and Roman Josi, and took advantage of an overly aggressive Rinne, who came out to challenge. Marleau easily sidestepped the goalie and tapped in his second of the playoffs at 13:13.
Predators center Mike Ribeiro was reportedly a healthy scratch for the game. A 50-point scorer in the regular season, Ribeiro has just one assist in nine playoff games.
The Sharks are 8-4 all-time when leading a series, two-games-to-one, including the first round against Los Angeles when they also dropped Game 3 after capturing the first two.
The Sharks managed just four shots on the power play in an even seven minutes. They are 8-for-30 in the playoffs.
Nashville scored its second power play goal of the series, finishing 2-for-5, after getting just one in seven games against Anaheim in the first round. The Preds are 4-for-36 overall.
Despite the misplay on Marleau’s goal, Rinne was solid in net with 26 saves. He evened his playoff record to 5-5.
Jones allowed four goals on 25 shots, falling to 6-2. He appeared to be slightly shaken up after taking a Mike Fisher shot up high with 2:41 to go in the first period, but stayed in net.
Burns, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski all saw their four-game point streaks come to an end.
Coach Pete DeBoer shuffled up lines through four to start the third period. Marleau moved up to the Couture line with Joel Ward; Chris Tierney centered Nieto and Karlsson on the third line, while a struggling Donskoi went down to the fourth line with Wingels and Nick Spaling.
Pontus Aberg, a second round pick of the Predators in 2012, made his NHL debut with Ribeiro out.
The Sharks will remain in Nashville for Game 4 on Thursday. They are 17-15 all-time in Game 4’s, including an 8-8 mark on the road.
In the other Western Conference second round series, the Blues lead the Stars, two-games-to-one.