SAN JOSE (The Sports Xchange) - Joel Ward’s tiebreaking goal at 11:49 of the third enabled the San Jose Sharks to rally for a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
Ward’s fourth career game-winning goal in the playoffs enabled San Jose to take a 1-0 lead in its best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Predators.
Game 2 is Sunday at SAP Center.
Ward took a lead pass from rookie Joonas Donskoi to break in alone after the Sharks forced a turnover at center. Ward drove in close to Pekka Rinne, waited for the Nashville goalie to commit, then slid behind on the forehand before tucking the puck over the goal line on the backhand.
San Jose goalie Martin Jones stopped 29 of 31 shots during the win.
Logan Couture capped the third-period comeback with his second goal of the postseason, a power-play strike at 15:40 just 19 seconds into the advantage when he redirected a Joe Pavelski feed past Rinne.
Couture scored again at 18:31 into an empty net just 20 seconds after Nashville’s Ryan Johansen redirected a shot by defenseman Roman Josi over Jones with an extra skater to cut the margin to one goal.
San Jose’s Tommy Wingels also scored into an empty net at 19:10 after blocking a shot by Predators defenseman Shea Weber.
The Sharks gained the equalizer early in the third period as Tomas Hertl’s power-play goal at 2:37 found a way under the left catching glove of Rinne and just inside the near post.
Ward fed Hertl, who was at the bottom of the right circle when he shot. The Sharks converted 1:46 into Ryan Johansen’s holding penalty on Pavelski.
The Sharks had more shots in the second period (14-10), but the Predators broke through early to score the only goal in the first 40 minutes.
San Jose left winger Matt Nieto tripped Nashville center Colin Wilson deep in the offensive zone at 2:45 and the Predators embarked on their second power play of the game.
Johansen’s seam pass found Mike Fisher alone at the left dot, and the veteran center wristed his second goal of the postseason over the shoulder of Jones at 4:33.