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Joel Ward's big third period sparks Sharks to Game 1 win

San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward has a longstanding reputation as a clutch playoff performer. Late in Game 1 of his team’s second-round series against the Nashville Predators he lived up to this status. Ward took over, scoring a goal and adding an assist to help the Sharks erase a one-goal third period deficit and win 5-2.

Ward gave San Jose the go-ahead goal with a beautiful breakaway move on Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, faking out his former Nashville teammate then going to his backhand to tuck the puck behind Rinne at the 11:49 mark of the third.

Before that momentum-changing goal, Ward got the primary assist on Tomas Hertl’s power play goal at the 2:37 mark of the third to knot the game at 1-1.

Later in the frame, Ward’s line kept the Predators in their zone and led to a high-stick by forward Calle Jarnkrok on Joonas Donskoi. 

On the ensuing power play Sharks forward Logan Couture deflected in a feed from Joe Pavelski for the game-winner at the 15:40 mark to put the game at 3-1 in favor of the Sharks. Predators center Ryan Johansen scored at the 18:11 mark to bring his team within one, but Couture fired an empty netter just 20 seconds later to ice the game.

The Predators took the lead after Mike Fisher scored a power play goal at the 4:33 mark of the second period, but from that point on it was all Sharks.

San Jose outshot Nashville 27-19 the final two periods and dominated puck possession after Fisher’s score. Their power play, which came into the game as one of the postseason’s best units, finished the contest 2-for-3.

San Jose signed the 35-year-old Ward to a three-year $9.825 million contract in the offseason to add some size and veteran playoff poise. Ward played three seasons with the Predators and in Nashville he started his playoff reputation with seven goals and 13 points in 12 games during the 2010-11 postseason. 

This postseason he has six points in six games. In the regular season he’s averaged 0.44 points per-game. In the playoffs he’s averaged 0.67 points per-game.

Game 2 is Sunday at SAP Center in San Jose. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

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