While everyone sings the praises (and justifiably so) of the Thornton-Cheechoo corporation, many seem to have forgotten that San Jose has a pretty good goal scorer sitting around the bench in the name of Patrick Marleau.
Tuesday night, Marleau decided to re-introduce himself to the local fan base and say hello to the Nashville Predators as well. The San Jose captain accounted for two goals as his San Jose Sharks dominated the visiting Predators, securing a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.
Nashville got off to the early lead, but once San Jose turned on the power it was all but over for the Cats from Tennessee. Chris Mason had a less than successful night in the Preds net allowing two soft goals on shots that he no doubts wished he’d squeezed just a little bit harder on. The rookie goaltender who has been tossed into the spotlight due to the injury to Thomas Vokoun showed a few nerves on the night, allowing in the goals that when scored tend to kill a team in a game.
That’s not to excuse his Predator team mates, who have been rather anemic offensively at times in this series. The only bright side for the Predators was their ability to shut down Joe Thorton, making sure that somebody was close by every time the puck would meander towards him, Thornton rarely got the chance to set up a play or take a shot on net such was the interest shown to him by the Predators. Unfortunately for Nashville though, there usually were four other players on the ice more than willing to take up the challenge and push the puck deep into the Predator zone. By them time they were finished with that challenge, the Sharks had a 4-1 victory under their belt and looked to be in charge of this series quite nicely.
The telling stat on the night was shots on goal, the bulk of the play must have been in the Nashville end of the ice as Mason faced 40 shots over the course of the game, compared to the measly 17 shots (only 4 in the third period) attempted on San Jose goaltender Vesa Toskala.
With the win the Sharks set themselves to take a strangle hold on the series on Thursday night, judging by the action on Tuesday, it might be time to start working on repeating the name of Patrick Marleau, forgotten no more, he seems ready to carve out his bit of Shark history to go along with his pals Thornton and Cheechoo.