The Predators aren’t going to look fondly upon their Game 7 loss, and there won’t be many moral victories coming from the defeat. One especially ugly moment came half a minute into the third period, when the Sharks scored after getting a 4-on-1 break while on the power play.
The Predators entered the third period of Thursday’s Game 7 against the Sharks in an unenviable hole. Nashville was trailing 3-0 and were starting the final regulation frame — and potentially their final period of the season — shorthanded against what has been the post-season’s most productive power play unit.
It took all of 26 seconds for things to go even further south.
With the Predators seeking anything to get the offense started, Mike Fisher broke up the ice shorthanded against a slew of Sharks defenders and crossed into the San Jose zone with defenseman Shea Weber approaching through the neutral zone. Fisher faked as if to drive to the outside before dropping a pass that was intended for Weber, but instead was poked away by Sharks center Logan Couture, Weber fell to the ice and San Jose skated away on a serious odd-man break.
And as if facing the playoffs’ best power play wasn’t enough, Predators defenseman Roman Josi was stranded alone trying to ward off a Sharks 4-on-1. The result was predictable:
The play was a microcosm of how the night went for both the Predators and Weber, who somehow managed to be on the bad side of each Sharks goal Thursday night. Not only was he on the ice for every goal against, though, Weber was directly involved in two, both of which came in the opening minute of the second and third periods.
To start the second frame, Weber was handcuffed by a soft chip into the Nashville zone that resulted in him popping the puck into the middle of the ice where Couture was waiting to pounce. Couture beat Pekka Rinne 36 seconds into the second period for the Sharks’ third goal of the evening, and it was almost exactly 20 minutes later, 32 seconds into the third frame, that Thornton scored his goal following Weber’s blown tire.
Thornton’s goal, his third of the post-season, gave the Sharks a 4-0 lead, and that was more than enough for San Jose to skate away victorious. Goaltender Martin Jones fought off all 20 shots that came his way in the contest, Patrick Marleau added yet another Sharks goal and San Jose advanced to the Western Conference final with a 5-0 Game 7 victory over the Predators.