Nashville Predators (+140) at San Jose Sharks (-160, 5o/u)
You could forgive the Nashville Predators (6-5, 3-3 road) and San Jose Sharks (6-3, 3-1) if they’re a little slow out of the gate in tonight’s game. After playing for 111 minutes in Game 4 on Thursday, the Preds mercifully ended a triple OT affair on a Mike Fisher goal to knot their second-round series at two games a piece. Both teams will have to muster whatever strength they have left as this now best-of-three series heads back to the SAP Center (10:00 PM Eastern).
The good news for the Sharks is that the home team has won every game so far. But there’s also plenty of bad news for San Jose fans when it comes to the team’s recent on-ice performance; look no further than the face-off dot for the worst of it. A perceived advantage coming in to the series, the faceoff circle has not been kind to the Sharks in the series (93-70). Those missed opportunities to gain possession cost them, too, especially on the powerplay. Nashville’s Shea Weber took two penalties in overtime of Game 4, but the Sharks couldn’t capitalize on either in the 4-3 loss.
As Nashville looks to steal one on the road, they’ll continue to lean on the line of Fisher, James Neal, and Colin Wilson. The trio scored all four goals in Game 4, combining for seven points, total. In net, Pekka Rinne was strong once again, making 44 saves.
The Preds will have to play a much tighter game when down a man on the road. The Sharks went 3 of 5 on the powerplay in Games 1 and 2, and Nashville doesn’t have the firepower to play from behind. However, this team did manage to steal three road games from a California team in the first round, thanks to strong all around team D.
If someone in this series is going to win a game away from home, this feels like the spot. The Preds had a little more left in the tank in Game 4, and San Jose was a dismal 18-20-3 at home in the regular season. Add in the white-hot goaltending of Rinne, and the Preds look ready to pull one out on the road.
Pick: Nashville (+140).
(Photo credit: mark6mauno (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])