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Sharks Dominate in Pivotal Game 5

The San Jose Sharks ousted the Nashville Predators Saturday night to secure a Game 5 victory and a 3-2 series lead. The Sharks have the opportunity to close the series out Monday night in Nashville.

Both teams made lineup changes following the six-period game on Thursday. Peter Laviolette returned Mike Ribeiro to the starting roster, and Peter DeBoer substituted Tommy Wingels with Dainius Zubrus.

DeBoer also shook up his line combinations by moving Patrick Marleau up to the second line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi and sending Chris Tierney to the third line with Joel Ward and Matt Nieto.

First Period

San Jose dominated play throughout the first frame and eventually finished the period with a 62.7 corsi-for percentage.

Marleau opened the scoring with his new linemates just over halfway through the opening stanza. Donskoi expertly defended the puck along the boards and behind the Nashville net, where he slipped a pass over to Marleau coming in from the faceoff circle. No. 12 caught the pass and fired the puck passed Pekka Rinne on the short side.

The lead would not last long though, as Mike Fisher would find the twine. After a low cycle in the zone, and some fancy footwork, James Neal managed to draw two Sharks to him near the faceoff dot and found a wide-open Fisher beside the net. The puck got to Fisher, and the Predators forward backhanded the puck short side on Martin Jones to tie the game. The score was 1-1 with 4:20 left in the first period.

But Sharks fans know how first-hand the abilities of their captain. Less than two minutes later, Joe Pavelski gave the lead back to San Jose after receiving a beautiful pass from Joe Thornton; all he had to do was fire it into the goal. It was vintage Thornton-Pavelski.

Second Period

The second period provided more exciting hockey and more goals by the Sharks. These tallies were at crucial times, too, as they were within the first and last minute of the period.

Just 35 seconds into the middle frame, Couture caught the Predators on a bad change and managed a breakaway opportunity. The center deked once, forcing Rinne to open up the wickets, and Couture slid the puck five-hole to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

San Jose struck again in the final minute of the period to extend their lead to 4-1. This time, though, it was on the power play. Roman Josi was sent to the penalty box after tripping Couture to deny another breakaway chance. Pavelski scored his second of the night from a nice Marleau pass on the ensuing advantage.

Third Period

San Jose played a primarily defensive game to start the third period, but they did a great job of not allowing high-danger scoring chances. They were able to keep Nashville to the perimeter throughout the push. However, it took Team Teal over nine minutes to earn their first shot on goal. That’s score effect for you.

The game had a more back-and-forth feel after the Sharks fired their first shot of the period. This continued until the end of the contest.

Melker Karlsson added a meaningless goal on backup Carter Hutton with under a minute left to give the Sharks a 5-1 lead in the game.

San Jose – 5 , Nashville – 1

Post-Game Thoughts

-Logan Couture went into the locker room after sustaining a leg injury early in the second period. He returned shortly after and finished the game with no noticeable detriments.

– Martin Jones looked much better than he did in Game 4. He seemed composed in the net and didn’t give up many rebounds.

-The new line of Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joonas Donskoi had a fantastic game. Looks like DeBoer’s changes paid off.

-Chris Tierney, Matt Nieto, and Joel Ward had a minus-10 corsi differential tonight, which is not good. However, they did a great job in the defensive zone by keeping the play to the perimeter and limiting the amount of scoring chances they allowed.

-Melker Karlsson looked like a defensive genius tonight.

About Drew Weber

Drew Weber is a lover of hockey and abuser of analytics. Prior to joining Pucknology, he covered the San Jose Sharks and Team USA for The Hockey Writers and contributed briefly to Fear the Fin. You can follow him on Twitter at @puck_over_glass.

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