SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks passes the puck away from Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators in the first period during an NHL game at HP Pavilion at San Jose on November 5, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Pekka Rinne played well -- and with fire -- against San Jose, but Antti Niemi was one better Thursday night as his Sharks came back from down 1-0 to win in the shootout.
Despite the upper-hand in shots for San Jose, as has often been the case in games, Nashville found their way on the board first with a Patric Hornqvist power play goal in the first period.
In very similar fashion to the Preds' last game against the Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville took control with the lead through two periods. Nashville's best chance to extend their lead with 4:17 left in the second, when Paul Gaustad and Martin Havlat were called for coincidental roughing minors after Gaustad stood up for Pekka Rinne, who thought Havlat's stick got caught in his equipment. At the same time, Daniel Winnik was called for tripping behind the net, which ended up being the outstanding penalty to give the Preds a power play. Even though this would be a rallying point to score, the Nashville power play unit failed to register a shot with the man advantage, and the game remained 1-0, Predators. They can also thank the strong play by Antti Niemi, who stopped 32 shots in total, and a tightened San Jose defense.
As a result, the Sharks were still in the game and after they earned a late power play in the second that spilled over into the third period, they scored a goal with the an advantage early in the final period for the third straight game. This time, the hero was Joe Thornton just 55 seconds in to tie the game.
Also like Nashville's last game, the score would need to be settled via shootout -- only this time, after losing a third-period lead, they could not hold on despite a solid 34-save performance from Rinne, as Ryane Clowe took the extra point for San Jose in the third round.
With the Detroit Red Wings' previous losses and day off Thursday night, Nashville's one-point finish put the Preds behind them by one-point, even though they had a chance to tie them. The Sharks are not only one point back of the eighth seed, but are now three behind the division-leading Stars.