NHL Preview 10-08-19: San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators

Hockey NHL Sports

11  San Jose Sharks  6  + 1.5 (- 190)

12  Nashville Predators  – 165  – 1.5 (+ 163)

Nashville has played one less game than San Jose, but unlike the Sharks, the Predators have tasted victory in the young season.

They can owe much of that to newcomer Matt Duchene.

The forward made an immediate impact in his debut, dishing out three assists as the Predators used a four-goal third period to earn a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild last Thursday in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators signed Duchene, 28, to a seven-year, $56 million contract when free agency opened on July 1, and the relationship between him and the Central Division side has been a strong one.

Duchene has been centering the second line, playing between left wing Filip Forsberg and right wing Mikael Granlund.

Duchene assisted on Granlund’s game-tying goal 27 seconds into the third, then added another assist as the Predators notched their first victory. Nashville then lost to visiting Detroit 5-3 on Saturday.

The Predators host the Sharks in a prime-time matchup on Tuesday in the first of three meetings.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said the fit between the Duchene, a Canadian native from Ontario, and the Music City appears to be a perfect one.

“This is where he wanted to be, we wanted to have him, and it finally happened,” Laviolette said. “He’s stepped right in. I mean, this is, I think if you ask him, this is his home, like Nashville is his home. He wants to be here.”

Added Duchene of the opening-night atmosphere: “The fans are — I mean, it’s just tough to compare any other fan base in the league. It’s amazing.”

The San Jose Sharks are reeling from three straight losses to open the season, and heading to Nashville might be a tough place to break into the win column.

Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Anaheim to the Ducks marked the first time San Jose had opened the season with three straight losses since 1994, when they started 0-8-1.

The Sharks have been outscored 12-3 in their three losses against Pacific Division foes — two to the Vegas Golden Knights, one to the Ducks.

Worse yet, their performance with the man advantage is off to as slow a start. The Sharks excelled on the power play last season, ranking sixth with a 23.6 percent success rate — better than every Western Conference team except the Winnipeg Jets.

“You’ve got to work. It’s not easy to score goals or win hockey games in the NHL unless you work,” San Jose captain Logan Couture said. “Usually the team that works harder win games, and in all three so far, the other team has outworked us.”

The Sharks hope to get a boost with the return of Evander Kane. The left wing was suspended three games for abuse of officials in a preseason game and is eligible to return against the Predators.

The Sharks recalled defenseman Trevor Carrick from AHL affiliate San Jose and placed defenseman Jacob Middleton on injured reserve.

Nashville Predators: Media Notes

ALL-TIME vs. SAN JOSE
– The Predators are 35-29-(2)-7 all-time against the Sharks, including a 21-12-(1)-2 record at Bridgestone Arena.
– Overall, Nashville has won five of its last eight games (5-3-0) against San Jose.
– The Preds have won three of their last four and nine of their last 11 games (9-1-1) vs. the Sharks on home ice.
– Nashville went 1-2-0 against San Jose during the 2018-19 season, scoring four times in each of its three contests. The two teams were even on goals scored with 12; Nashville’s victory came on March 16 at San Jose, a 4-2 result.
– Season series: 10/8 @ NSH; 11/9 @ SJS; 12/10 @ NSH

NOTABLES vs. SAN JOSE
– Mattias Ekholm scored his first career NHL goal vs. San Jose on Jan. 7, 2014.
– Ryan Johansen has produced a point per game against the Sharks in his career, tallying 23 points (9g-14a) in 23 games. He is on a five-game point streak against San Jose (1g-6a) and has 10 points (2g-8a) in his last eight meetings with the Sharks.
– Roman Josi has 14 points (4g-10a) in 22 career games against the Sharks. He recorded a six-game point streak (1g-7a) vs. San Jose from April 2, 2016-Feb. 22, 2018.
– Nick Bonino has five points (3g-2a) in his last six games vs. the Sharks and has 16 points (5g-11a) in 25 career games against them. He was drafted 173rd overall by the Sharks in the 2007 NHL Draft.
– Matt Duchene has five points (3g-2a) in his last three games against San Jose.

LAST TIME OUT
Detroit Red Wings 5, Nashville Predators 3 – Oct. 5 @ Bridgestone Arena (Nashville)
NSH goals: Arvidsson – PP (2), Forsberg (2), Ekholm (1)
DET goals: Bertuzzi (1), Mantha (1), Larkin (1), Glendening – GWG (1), Bertuzzi – ENG (2)
Goaltenders: NSH – Saros (L, 4 GA, 23/27) / DET – Howard (W, 3 GA, 39/42)
Power plays: NSH 0-1 / DET 0-2

Notes: Nashville has not defeated Detroit at home since Dec. 30, 2013… The Preds’ eight goals through their first two games are their most since the 2007-08 season… Seven Preds players had at least one point… Matt Duchene (2a) and Mattias Ekholm (1g-1a) had multi-point nights… Ekholm and Dante Fabbro led the Preds with a +1 rating… Filip Forsberg had a game-high six shots and hits.

IT STARTS NOW
– The Predators look to further build off their 2018-19 campaign that featured a second consecutive Central Division title.
– Nashville also reached the 100-point mark for the seventh time in franchise history by virtue of a 47-29-6 record.
– The Preds joined elite company by becoming one of just three teams to qualify for the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, alongside Pittsburgh (13) and Washington (5).

DUCHENE DAZZLES
– Matt Duchene picked up two assists on Saturday vs. Detroit to give him five points – all assists – in Nashville’s first two games of 2019-20.
– His five assists are the most and his five points are tied with Steve Sullivan (2g-3a in 2006-07) and David Legwand (2g-3a in 2011-12) for the most by a Preds player in the team’s first two games of a season.
– The center was one point shy of the Preds franchise record for most by a player in his first two games with the team, held by Steve Sullivan, who tallied six (4g-2a) from Feb. 18-20, 2004.
– As of games played through Oct. 6, Duchene is tied for first in the NHL in assists and tied for third in points.
– Duchene’s three-assist night on Thursday was his sixth career such performance.

OVERALL (73 GP) 35-29-(2)-7
HOME (36 GP) 21-12-(1)-2
ROAD (37 GP) 14-17-(1)-5
PLAYOFFS (3x) Last: 2016 Western Conference Second Round (L, 4-3)

CONTROLLING POSSESSION
– Through two games, Nashville has controlled 63 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts, the best mark in the NHL.
– The Preds’ trio of Kyle Turris, Calle Jarnkrok and Rocco Grimaldi lead the team with a mark of 70.3 percent of the shot attempts in 16:49 together.
– Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith are second on the team at 67.5 percent of the shot attempts in 21:45 of ice time together.
– The line featuring Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund is at 62.9 percent. Per Natural Stat Trick, the line has accumulated 10 scoring chances and six high-danger scoring chances compared to two and none, respectively, against.

ELLIS ON THE BOARD
– Ryan Ellis scored Nashville’s first goal of the season on Thursday. Last season, it took Ellis until his 22nd game to find the back of the net.
– It was his 42nd career multi-point game; he tallied six such games in 2018-19.
– Ellis led all players with a +4 rating, the fifth time in his career he’s hit that mark and first time since Feb. 19, 2019 at Dallas.

IN THE WIN COLUMN
– The Predators moved to 12-8-1 all-time in regular-season openers following Thursday’s 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
– Nashville also improved to 12-7-(1)-1 all-time in regular-season home openers and has victories in six of the last seven such occasions.
– It’s the first time the Preds have scored at least five goals in their first game of the season since they tallied six against Chicago in the 2006-07 opener, an 8-6 loss.

MILESTONES
– Calle Jarnkrok is three games from 400 in his NHL career.
– Filip Forsberg is three games from 400 in his NHL career.
– Mikael Granlund is five goals from 100 in his NHL career.
– Craig Smith is six games from 600 in his NHL career.
– Ryan Johansen is six games from 600 in his NHL career.
– Rocco Grimaldi is eight games from 100 in his NHL career.
– Dan Hamhuis is 10 games from 1,100 in his NHL career.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS
– Oct. 1: Assigned F Miikka Salomaki and D Steven Santini to Milwaukee (AHL).

OFFSEASON/2018-19 HIGHLIGHTS
PREDS SIGN DUCHENE
– Two-time NHL All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Duchene signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Predators on July 1, the first day of free agency.
– Duchene matched his career high in points last season with 70 (31g-39a) in 73 games spent with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. He also added 10 points (5g-5a) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Blue Jackets.
– Originally drafted in the first round (third overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, his 552 career points (232g-320a) are the second-most among all skaters in his draft class.

SEVEN MORE YEARS FOR SISSONS
– Forward Colton Sissons signed a seven-year, $20 million contract with the Predators on July 22.
– Sissons is coming off a 2018-19 campaign that saw him set career highs in goals (15) and points (30) in 75 games with the Predators.
– He accumulated double-digit goals and assists (15) for the first time in NHL career and added eight multi-point games, a career best.

GRIMALDI, CARR INK DEALS
– Forward Rocco Grimaldi was awarded a one-year, $1 million contract via arbitration on Aug. 6. Grimaldi, 26, established career highs in games played (53), goals (5), assists (8) and points (13) last season with the Predators, his first with the club. He skated in five of Nashville’s 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games and led the team in goals with three, his first career postseason points.
– Forward Daniel Carr signed a one-year, $700,000 contract on July 1. Carr won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player with the Chicago Wolves last season, recording 71 points (30g-41a), tied for the third-most in the league. He was also fourth among AHL skaters in plus-minus (+35) and tied for eighth in goals (30); both marks established career highs.

LAMBERT JOINS PREDS BENCH
– Dan Lambert joined Peter Laviolette’s coaching staff as an assistant coach on June 4.
– Lambert came to the Predators organization after spending two seasons as head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. In 2018-19, he led the Chiefs to a 40-21-2-5 record en route to the WHL’s Western Conference Final, the team’s longest playoff run since 2011.
– Under his guidance, Spokane’s power play led the WHL last season, operating at 29.1 percent (81-for-278), the second-highest across the entire CHL and the WHL’s sixth-highest in the last 10 seasons. In Spokane’s 15 playoff games last season, the Chiefs went 13-for-36 on the power play (36.1 percent) to lead the WHL.
– He also brings NHL coaching experience to the Predators bench, having served one season as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres in 2015-16.

2018-19 HIGHLIGHTS
– Viktor Arvidsson set the Predators’ franchise record for goals in a single season with 34, one more than the 33 scored by Jason Arnott in 2008-09 and Filip Forsberg in 2015-16.
– Arvidsson also set the Preds record for goals per game in a season and was third in the NHL at .59.
– Roman Josi matched his career high in goals with 15 last season, the seventh-most among NHL blueliners. He is one of four active NHL defensemen to score at least 10 goals in each of his last six seasons (also: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mark Giordano and Brent Burns).
– Pekka Rinne finished the 2018-19 season with a 30-19-4 record, hitting the 30-win mark for the eighth time in his career and fifth consecutive season. It’s tied for the longest active such streak in the NHL, joining Devan Dubnyk and Braden Holtby.
– Ryan Johansen tallied a career-high 50 assists last season, joining Paul Kariya as the only players in team history to hit the mark. He bested his previous career high of 47, which he set in 2016-17.
– Filip Forsberg scored 28 goals last season, the third time in his career he’s tallied at least that many. He became the only player in team history to score 25 goals in five different seasons

San Jose Sharks: Media Notes

LAST GAME
10/5 – SJS 1 at ANA 3…Logan Couture scored for San Jose in the contest with Erik Karlsson and Brenden Dillon assisting on the play for their first points in the regular season. Trevor Carrick made his San Jose debut in the contest and Aaron Dell logged his first start this season, stopping 30 of 33 shots.
SJ Goals: Couture (1)
SF: 36
SA: 33
SJ PP: 0-4
SJ PK: 2-2
W: Gibson
L: Dell

RECENT SHARKS TRANSACTIONS
10/5 Recalled D Trevor Carrick from San Jose Barracuda (AHL). Jacob Middleton placed on IR
10/4 Recalled D Jacob Middleton from San Jose Barracuda (AHL). Dalton Prout placed on IR
10/3 Assigned F Manuel Wiederer to San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
9/29 Reassigned D Jacob Middleton and F Antti Suomela to San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
9/27 Acquired D Nicolas Meloche from Colorado in exchange for G Antoine Bibeau

TONIGHT’S OPPONENT: NASHVILLE PREDATORS
The San Jose Sharks (0-3-0) take on the Nashville Predators in the first of a three-game season series. Tonight marks the second game in a three-game road trip for San Jose, making the final stop in Chicago on Thursday. Last season against the Predators, the Sharks went 2-1-0 against the Central opponent, most notably erasing a three-goal deficit in the first meeting on 10/23 in Nasvhille. Alltime vs. the Predators, the Sharks are 36-29-2-6. Entering tonight, General Manager Doug Wilson is one game from his 1,200th game as a GM. He would become the 24th general manager in NHL history to serve at least 1,200 games.

UPCOMING MILESTONES
Doug Wilson: 1 win from tying Conn Smythe (682) for 19th on the NHL’s all-time list among General Managers; 1 game from 1,200 games as a NHL GM
Brent Burns: 2 goals from 200 NHL goals
Timo Meier: 4 games from 200 NHL games
Evander Kane: 6 assists from 200 NHL assists

TOP CURRENT IRON-MAN STREAK
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY…Since being named the team’s general manager on May 13, 2003, Doug Wilson has strategically built the San Jose Sharks into one of the NHL’s top franchises through strong drafting, shrewd trades and timely free agent signings. In his 15 seasons in charge of the Sharks hockey department, Wilson has guided the team to its most successful era since the franchise’s inception, capturing a Presidents’ Trophy (2009), five Pacific Division titles, advancing to the Western Conference Final on five occasions (2004, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2019) and appearing in the Stanley Cup Final (2016). In his tenure as general manager, San Jose co-leads NHL clubs in Stanley Cup Playoff rounds (30), tied with only Pittsburgh:

GAMES STREAK BEGAN PLAYER
474 11/21/13 Brent Burns
DISTINCT MANAGER… Doug Wilson is set to serve his 1,200th career game as General Manager for the Sharks Franchise against the Nashville Predators. He will become the 24th GM in league history to reach the milestone mark and the fifth active in the NHL (D. Poile, L. Lamoriello, J. Rutherford, K. Holland). Additionally, Wilson will become the 19th GM in league history to serve at least 1,200 with one franchise and the second active (D. Poile, NSH: 1,609). Since his debut in 2003 as the Sharks GM, no other franchise has more wins than the Sharks (681) and Wilson is one win from tying Conn Smythe (682) for 19th on the NHL’s all-time list.

‘C’ STANDS FOR COUTURE… The Sharks open the 2019-20 regular season with a new team captain in Logan Couture . Couture became the 10th full-time captain in team history, following J. Pavelski (2015-2019). Couture enters 11th season as a member of the Sharks after being selected in the first round (9th overall) by San Jose in the 2007 NHL Draft. He registered a career-best 70 points (27g, 43a) last season and led all skaters in goals (14) in the 2019 playoffs, despite playing six fewer games than second and third place. Couture has skated in 666 career games for San Jose, compiling 509 points (241g, 268a) and ranks fourth in goals and points, fifth in assists, and sixth in games played on the franchise’s all-time list. Over the course of his career, the center was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2010-11 and finished second in the Calder Trophy ballot. He represented San Jose in the 2012 All-Star game and is a two-time Sharks POTY (2011-12; 2017-18). Couture also served as captain of the Ottawa 67’s in his final season in the OHL (2008-09).

MAKING HIS MARC... Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic can become the first San Jose Sharks blueliner to reach 1,000 games played with the franchise this season, needing only 32 games. Vlasic’s exceptional defensive abilities have been on full display over the course of his career since his debut on Oct. 5, 2006 vs. STL. Since 2011, Vlasic ranks fourth among NHL defensemen in minor penalties per 60, taking .31 penalties (min. 500 games) and leads the Sharks in the category (min. 300 games). In 13 full seasons, Vlasic has been a plus-rating in all but two. No other defenseman has more (Zdeno Chara, BOS; B. Orpik both have 11) since the 2006-07 season.

JUMBO SIZED HISTORY… In 2018-19, Joe Thornton vaulted over several Hall-of-Fame skaters on the NHL’s all-time lists, became the seventh player in NHL history to achieve 1,500 games, 400 goals and 1,000 assists and also notched his 1,000th game and point as a Shark. Entering this season, Thornton ranks 12th on the all-time games played list, eighth on the all-time assist list and 14th on the all-time points list. Some upcoming milestones include 13 assists from A. Oates (1,079) for seventh on the all-time assist list, 21 points from 1,500 NHL points and 31 games from 1,600 NHL games.

DOMINANT DEFENSE…Last season, the Sharks sported two defensemen who ranked in the Top-10 in assists among bluelines in Brent Burns (1st) and Erik Karlsson (9th, tied). Burns’ 83-point season was the highest total by a defenseman since the 1995-96 season and Karlsson became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to record an assist in 14 consecutive appearances. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, both Burns (410) and Karlsson (401) lead NHL blueliners in points (1st and 2nd respectively), assists (Karlsson 315, 1st; Burns 287, 2nd) and Burns leads in goals (123) while Karlsson is fifth (86). No other defenseman has more than 350 points.

NEW FINS IN THE BAY…The Sharks boasted three rookies on opening night, including F Lean Bergmann and Danil Yurtaykin along with D Mario Ferraro. 10/2 at Vegas marked the first time in franchise history the Sharks witnessed three players make their debut for the franchise in the regular season opener, and Ferraro became the 81st skater who was drafted by San Jose to make his debut with the club. On 10/4 vs. VGK, Ferraro achieve his first career point.

SCHOOL IS IN SESSION… The Sharks maintained the core group of skaters that finished the season with a Western Conference Final berth. Eight of the 10 top goal scorers from last season have returned or were under contract for San Jose. Four of the five 60-point producers from 2018-19 remain with the Sharks and seven of the eight 50-point scorers are wearing teal in the upcoming season.

FUTURE FISH REPORT (10/7)
RANK TEAM GP W L OT PTS PTS%
1 SAN JOSE 1199 681 376 142 1504 62.8%
2 Detroit 1198 644 389 165 1453 60.6%
3 Boston 1198 643 395 160 1446 60.3%
4 Pittsburgh 1198 651 416 131 1433 59.8%
5 Nashville 1198 642 409 147 1431 59.8%

PROSPECT OF THE WEEK… Jonathan Dahlen has been selected as the Sharks Prospect of the Week for the week of 9/23 after a five point week (1g, 4a), including one GWG. after posting a game-winning goal and four assists for Timrå IK in the Allsvenskan Swedish League during the week of September 23. Dahlen leads Allsvenskan in goals (4) and T-1st in points (11). Through his five games,Dahlen has four goals, helping elevate Timrå IK to first place overall. Last Week: Jake McGrew (WHL, 1 nomination)

RYAN MERKLEY (London, OHL)… In his third game with the London Knights, Merkley scored his first goal of the season. Merkley boasts seven points (1g, 6a) in the early stages of the season, and ranks fourth among OHL blueliners in points.

JAKE MCGREW (Spokane, WHL)… McGrew has registered eight points (5g, 3a) in six total games to start the season for Spokane. McGrew has recorded four multi-point games including two-multi-goal performances. He currently ranks T-2nd among WHL skaters in goals as of 10/7.