Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Predator becomes the prey

Now that was the San Jose Shark attack everyone thought was coming. Helped on by some careless play and penalty trouble for the Predators, Jonathon Cheechoo racked up three points on the day, as the league’s top goal scorer picked up a goal and two assists, in on every scoring play in the 3-0 shut of Nashville.

With the refs under strict orders to enforce and maintain the order and Gary Bettman watching from his box, penalties were the rule of the game. San Jose spent more than half the first period serving penalties, a situation that eventually resulted in a 2-0 lead for the Sharks who capitalized on the man advantage situation.

For Nashville goaltender Chris Mason it was a remarkable turnaround from game one of the series, one which he dominated much to the chagrin of the Sharks. Sunday was a different story, Mason faced 37 shots, far too many of them on his own, as his forwards and defencemen at times suffered serious lapses in play leaving the young goaltender on his own to face the onslaught of Thornton, Cheechoo and company.

Vesa Toskala faced 25 shots, making some key saves at key times to bring any Predator advance to a standstill. In only his second playoff game the San Jose goaltender picked up his first playoff shut out.

The two teams now aware of the full justice program of the zebras and will have to refine their game accordingly. Penalties become costly when the other guys score the goals and end up taking the win.

The series tied at 1-1 moves on to Northern California on Tuesday for game three.

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