Stanley Cup Recap: Sharks and Blues Move Closer to Finish Line, Capitals Gain Ground

Joe Pavelski's two goals led the San Jose Sharks to a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators. San Jose leads their Western Conference Second Round Series 3-2. (Photo: NHL.com)

On the day of the running of the 142nd Kentucky Derby, the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues moved one step closer to their series finish lines while the Washington Capitals gained ground on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks

The Predators went into the SAP Center in San Jose on a two-game win streak after winning Games 3 and 4 in Nashville to tie the Western Conference Second Round Series at 2-2 but in Game 5, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with two goals to spearhead his team’s 5-1 win over the Predators giving San Jose a 3-2 series lead.

Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi and Justin Braun also contributed two points each to the Sharks’ win.

Marleau opened the scoring 10:47 into the first period when he one-timed a shot from the low slot over Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne’s pad just inside the right post after accepting a pass from Donskoi.

Mike Fisher, who scored the winning goal for the Predators in the third overtime of Game 4, tied the contest at 1-1 at 15:40 of the first period when he gathered a pass from James Neal on the edge of the Sharks crease and swept the puck past San Jose goaltender Martin Jones. Colin Wilson, who passed the disc out of the corner to Neal registered the secondary assist.

Wilson’s assist pushed his point streak to six games (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points) establishing a new Predators record.

Pavelski gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the game at 17:21 of the first period. Marc-Edouard Vlasic sent the puck behind the net from the left point to Thornton on the right half-wall. Thornton sent a quick backhand pass to Pavelski in the slot and he put a one-timer behind Rinne.

Logan Couture increased San Jose’s lead to 3-1 with his fifth goal of the playoffs just 35 seconds into the second period after being sent in on a breakaway from Donskoi. Couture deked Rinne with a forehand fake then went five-hole with a backhand shot. Braun also assisted on the play.

Pavelski struck for his second goal of the evening on the power play with 38 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Sharks a 4-1 lead. Thornton, standing at the top of the left faceoff circle, accepted a pass from Brent Burns. Thornton sent the puck into the left corner to Marleau, who skated it behind the net and found Pavelski open in the right faceoff circle. Marleau passed the disc towards Pavelski, who one-timed a slap shot into the top corner of the net over Rinne’s blocker. The lamplighter was the eighth of the playoffs for Pavelski.

The teams skated to a scoreless third period but Nashville coach Peter Laviolette replaced Rinne with backup netminder Carter Hutton with 3:01 to play.

Melker Karlsson put the seal on the Sharks’ victory with 50 seconds remaining in the third period when he received a pass from behind the Predators’ net off the stick of Chris Tierney and put the puck into the open right side of the net. Braun dumped the puck into the Nashville zone and Hutton went behind his net to stop the puck for Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm but the two bumped into each other allowing Tierney to reach the puck before Ekholm.

“That was probably the best we’ve played since the L. A. (Kings) series,” said Couture. “But this game ends and the next one will start in a little bit, so we have to play as well or better (in Game 6).”

Jones made 24 saves to help register the win.

The series will shift back to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for Game 6 on Monday, May 9th (9:00 pm ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2) where the Sharks could eliminate the Predators from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Series Notes:

Colin Wilson has amassed 12 points in 12 postseason games for Nashville this year.

Since being reunited in Game 3 of the series, the Predators’ Wilson-Fisher-Neal line has registered seven goals and six assists.

With his goal, Logan Couture (5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points) moved to within one point of the NHL playoff points lead.

Joe Pavelski’s eight playoff goals have him tied him with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the lead in NHL playoff goals.

Patrick Marleau (63), Joe Pavelski (33), and Logan Couture (22) – who rank 1st through 3rd in all-time San Jose playoff goals – each scored a goal in Game 5.

 St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars

Rookie Robby Fabbri and veteran Paul Stastny each contributed a goal and an assist as the Blues took a 3-2 lead over the Stars with a 4-1 win in Dallas in what could prove to be a pivotal Game 5 of the best-of-seven Western Conference Second Round Series.

Fabbri gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead 6:00 into the contest. The 20-year-old gathered the rebound of Kevin Shattenkirk’s point shot and sent the puck toward the slot where it deflected off a Dallas defender’s skate and found its way to the back of the net.

Dallas tied the game at 1-1 on a goal by defenseman Alex Goligoski at 10:58 of the opening period. The Blues had trouble clearing the puck out of their zone, losing a puck battle to the Stars’ Jason Spezza. He sent a pass into the middle of the zone to Vernon Fiddler, who dropped the puck to Goligoski and his wrist shot beat St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott’s glove hand.

Dmitrij Jaskin, playing in his first game of the playoffs, put St. Louis in the lead 2-1 at the 10:31 mark of the second period. He put his own rebound in the net after Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped Jaskin’s initial shot. Jay Bouwmeester and Scottie Upshall assisted on the goal.

“It was a great shift, a big goal for our team to go up 2-1,” Upshall said about the game-winning goal. “We used that to kind of catapult our positive vibes.”

Troy Brouwer put St. Louis in front 3-1 with 2:18 to play in the second period as he was left unattended at Lehtonen’s left post and put a rebound home after the Stars puck stopper made a save on a Fabbri wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Paul Stastny, who moved the puck to Fabbri drew the secondary assist.

Stastny closed out the scoring at 18:20 of the third period after Dallas pulled Lehtonen out of the crease in favor for the extra skater. Jaden Schwartz intercepted a pass from a Stars forward at the center ice red line and fed a pass to Stastny, who was positioned along the left boards at the Dallas blue line, he carried the disc over the blue line and sent a shot into the gaping net.

Elliott stopped 27 shots to record the win.

The teams will return to St. Louis on Monday, May 9th for Game 6 where the Blues will have the opportunity to eliminate the Stars from the playoffs. Game time is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Series Notes:

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock registered his 83rd Stanley Cup playoff win to pass Mike Babcock and Toe Blake for ninth place among head coaches.

No penalties were called in the first two periods of Game 5.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, the team that is facing elimination needs its leaders to put the team on their backs and do whatever it takes to stay alive. With Washington trailing Pittsburgh 3-1 and in that exact situation, Alex Ovechkin, and TJ Oshie did just that. Each contributed two points to lead the Capitals to a 3-1 win over the Penguins extending their Eastern Conference Second Round Series for at least one more game. The Penguins lead the series 3-2.

Ovechkin opened the scoring 4:04 into the first period on the power play. He unleashed a rocket of a slap shot from just above the left faceoff circle that sailed past the glove of Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray and landed in the top corner of the net giving his team a 1-0 lead. Nicklas Backstrom fed the Capitals captain from the opposite half-wall after receiving a pass from Oshie.

With Penguins on the power play, Chris Kunitz answered for Pittsburgh at the 7:08 mark of the period. Pittsburgh moved the puck adroitly around the Capitals zone. Kris Letang passed from the point to Sidney Crosby, who was at the top of the left faceoff circle. He put a pass onto Phil Kessel’s stick and the forward sent a shot at Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby stopped the shot but left a rebound for Kunitz to pounce on for his first goal of the postseason and a 1-1 tie.

The clubs would take the tie to their dressing rooms after the first period.

The Capitals would take advantage of another power play 4:00 into the second period to take a 2-1 lead. This time, it was Oshie with a wrist shot off a rebound of Ovechkin’s slap shot from inside of the left faceoff circle finding the back of the net. John Carlson, who sent a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin also garnered an assist. It was Oshie’s second game-winning goal of the series.

Justin Williams scored his second of the playoffs giving Washington a 3-1 lead with 10:02 remaining in the second period. He intercepted an attempted clearing pass by a Pittsburgh defenseman and put his shot between Murray’s pads for the unassisted goal.

Holtby made 30 saves to backstop the Washington victory.

“We didn’t want to give up,” Ovechkin said after the contest. “It doesn’t matter what position we are (in). We knew we have to do it. Forget it and next one is a big one. We can’t stop.”

Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 10th (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN)

Series Notes:

Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik will return for Game 6 after serving a three-game suspension for his hit (interference) on Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maata in Game 2.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th postseason career power play goal to tie Peter Bondra for the most in Washington Capitals playoff history.

Sidney Crosby posted his 82nd postseason career assist to tie Jaromir Jagr for second in Penguins playoff history.

Stat of the Night:

When teams are tied 2-2 in best-of-seven NHL playoff series, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time record of 190-53 (78.2%).

Sunday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:

Game 5 – Eastern Conference Second Round Series – New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning (3:00 pm ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). Tampa Bay leads the series 3-1.

Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

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