Another night of playoff hockey, another night of incomparable thrills.
San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators
San Jose entered the game with a 2-1 series lead when the puck dropped for Game 4 in the Music City against the Predators. In what would become an instant classic, Mike Fisher scored in the third overtime for the Predators to give his team a 4-3 win. The Western Conference Second Round Series is tied 2-2.
Colin Wilson led the Preds with three points on one goal and two assists, Fisher scored two goals, James Neal had a goal and an assist. Defensemen Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm has two assists each for Nashville.
Wilson gave Nashville the momentum they were hoping to establish when he scored just 41 seconds into the game putting his club in the lead 1-0. He chased a loose puck down into the corner and passed it back to Ekholm at the point. The defenseman sent a slap shot at the net. It was blocked and dropped at Wilson’s feet, who was standing at the edge of the crease and he swept the puck into the goal. It was the third fastest opening goal in Predators playoff history.
Brent Burns made it a 1-1 game for San Jose at the 3:08 mark. Paul Martin put a breakout pass onto Logan Couture’s stick, who carried it into the neutral zone. Couture sent the disc to Burns on the right wing. Burns waited until he reached the hash marks along the boards and sent a high snap shot over the glove of Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Burns has five multi-point games in nine games played this postseason. Only one other defenseman has done that since 1996 (PK Subban in 2014).
Nashville’s Fisher took advantage of a rebound to put his team in the lead 2-1 with 10:10 remaining in the period. Roman Josi skated the puck to the left of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, dropped a pass for Neal, who fired a hard slap shot at Jones. Jones made the stop but Fisher skated stealthily down the slot, collected the puck and put it past the San Jose netminder.
In the second period, San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi evened the score 2-2 at the 14:09 mark. His shot from the point deflected off the stick of a Predators defenseman and past Rinne. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin assisted on the goal.
In what is normally the final period, Burns scored his second of the game on the power play 6:48 into the frame. San Jose center Joe Thornton won an offensive zone faceoff back to Burns. The defenseman passed the puck along the blue line to Couture. Couture sent it back to Burns and the big blueliner sent a slap shot off a Nashville defender into the net. The goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead.
Neal scored the goal that evened the score for the Predators with 4:21 remaining in the third period. He began the play by missing the net with a shot from the high slot. The puck went to Wilson in the corner to Jones’ left. He sent a pass to Ellis back at the point. Ellis fired a slap shot at the net which was blocked but the rebound went directly to Neal, again in the high slot, and the Predators sniper did not miss this time. His quick wrist shot eluded Jones’ outstretched stick and into the back of the net to tie the contest 3-3.
The clubs skated to a scoreless first overtime although it appeared Joe Pavelski may have scored the game-winner for San Jose but he made contact with Rinne before putting a loose puck into the net while lying on top of the goaltender. It went to review and was ruled “no goal” for incidental contact between Pavelski and Rinne.
It was more of the same in the second overtime. Great goaltending, no goal scoring and it was on to the third overtime.
On the winning goal, Fisher collected the rebound of Ekholm’s point shot as he cut in front of Jones. Fisher carried the puck across Jones’ crease and swept it behind the goaltender to end the game at the 11:12 mark of the third overtime. Wilson, whose shot was blocked and went to Ekholm, was credited with the secondary assist.
Rinne turned aside 44 shots in the victory. His counterpart, Jones, stopped 41 shots.
Josi led all skaters with 49:42 Time On Ice.
Fisher’s game-winner ended the longest game (111:12) of the 2016 playoffs.
The clubs will travel back to San Jose for Game 5 which will be played on Saturday, May 7th at 10:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues
With Dallas trailing 2-1 in the series and the game tied in overtime, Stars forward Cody Eakin received a cross-ice pass from Patrick Sharp and put a seeing-eye wrist shot just over the shoulder of Blues goaltender Brian Elliott and into the net at 2:58 of the fourth period to give Dallas a 3-2 win in St. Louis. Eakin’s game-winner evened the series at 2-2. Jamie Benn drew an assist on the goal with a pass to Sharp.
The Stars had lost the two previous games to St. Louis after winning Game 1 and did not get off to the start they had wanted when Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko put his team on the board 1-0 with his 6th goal of the postseason at 10:17 of the first period. He snuck behind two Dallas defenders and accepted a breakaway pass in the neutral zone from Jaden Schwartz and put a wrist shot through the five-hole of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Carl Gunnarsson picked up the secondary assist.
Radek Faksa, who at 22-years-old has a very bright future in the NHL, tied the game at 1-1 for Dallas 4:05 into the second period when he intercepted a clearing attempt by a Blues defender inside the St. Louis blue line, he skated into the middle of the ice and unleashed a wrister that found its way through Elliott’s pads and into the back of the net.
Sharp scored the go-ahead goal for Dallas 1:09 after the Faksa goal. The Stars were on the power play and working the puck around the Blues’ zone. Jason Spezza worked the disc down low to Jamie Benn, who tried to sweep it across the crease but the puck rolled off Benn’s stick and landed on Sharp’s stick. Sharp shot it into the net giving Dallas a 2-1 lead.
St. Louis would take advantage of a power play of their own at 13:06 of the second period. Paul Stastny deflected a shot by Tarasenko past Lehtonen tying the game at 2-2. Alexander Steen garnered the secondary assist by moving the puck to Tarasenko.
Despite the Blues putting eight shots on goal and the Stars firing seven at Elliott, neither club scored in the third period leading the way for Eakin’s OT lamplighter.
Lehtonen, who has received his share of criticism for inconsistent play as of late, stopped 24 shots in the win. He has a career record of 15-6-3 in 28 career appearances against St. Louis (regular season and playoffs).
Benn collected two assists the contest. He leads NHL playoff scorers with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists).
The teams will travel to Dallas for Game 5. It will be played on Saturday, May 7th (1:00 pm ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
Six of the fifteen games in the Second Round have required overtime.
Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:
Game 4 – Eastern Conference Second Round – Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders (7:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.