With one loss in their last eight games, San Jose is riding a hot streak of late and have vaulted into a playoff spot after last night’s victory over a surprisingly tough Nashville team. With Pekker Rinne back in world class form, the Preds are in third place in one of the tougher divisions in hockey with a 19-7-2 record before last night’s game. San Jose scored first as Tomas Hertl continued his resurgence back into a goal scoring power forward. Anti Niemi returned from a minor injury to outduel his Finnish countryman by shutting out the Preds 2-0.
The only blemish for San Jose in the last eight contests was a loss to Edmonton last Sunday to break their 11 game losing streak. The Sharks are getting stellar goaltending from Niemi and Alex Stalock, with the team looking comfortable no matter who is in net. Watching San Jose in their first 22 games, one could determine that San Jose was indeed in a rebuilding mode. They had a sub .500 record, were wildly inconsistent and could NOT hold a lead. They also gave up the first goal or two often and could not seem to get the breaks or finish off great chances.
However, following an ugly home loss to Calgary on 11/26, the Sharks followed that up by beating the league leading Ducks 6-4, sending them on this great run to get back in the playoff conversation. Beating the Bruins at home and Calgary on the road were sweet victories for them and has given them some confidence. Joe Pavelski is playing some his best hockey and Joe Thornton continues to look ageless as he leads the team in points.
Edmonton came to town Thursday, fresh off the firing of beleaguered coach Dallas Eakins. It remains to be seen if Craig MacTavish taking the reins once more can help this reeling franchise regain their mojo. The Oil has won once in 17 games, the one victory coming against San Jose. The Oilers opened the scoring in the first and it remained 1-0 through the first period.
In the second, two goals 47 seconds apart by James Sheppard and Logan Couture gave the Sharks the lead. However, this wouldn’t last as the Oilers got two greasy goals in front of Anti Niemi to retake the lead, 3-2. The Sharks would respond again, this time in the middle of the third period with two quick ones by part of the “youth movement players”, rookies Barclay Goodrow and Matt Tennyson to go in front again. Tennyson’s first NHL goal would hold up as the winner, although Edmonton would have several good opportunities down the stretch, including a Jordan Eberly chance with thirty seconds left.
Can you imagine losing twice to the worst team in the league? You maybe thinking they already did that when they lost two to Buffalo, two to Columbus AND two to Florida. You would be right! Glad the Sharks didn’t as they look forward to St Louis tonight.
Big test for Los Tiburones as the Blues play the same heavy game that most of the Western Conference plays, with Vladimir Tarasenko leading the team in goals and an All Star defense corps, led by Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Should be some big time smackin and a good barometer for San Jose to judge whether they are back to elite status or just pretendin.