NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Fisher scored his second goal at 11:12 of the third overtime, and the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 early Friday morning in the longest game in franchise history.
With the victory, the Predators won their first overtime game on home ice. More importantly, they tied this second-round, best-of-seven series at 2-2.
James Neal scored with 4:21 left in the third period tying it up at 3-3, and the teams went scoreless during the first two overtimes and headed to a third extra period – the first in the NHL playoffs this year.
The Predators killed off six penalties, including one shortly before Fisher’s winning goal at 1:03 a.m. Goalie Pekka Rinne made 44 saves.
“He was unbelievable all game for us,” Fisher said of Rinne. “Shoot as much as you can, and you never know.”
This was the longest game for the Sharks since a four-overtime game in Dallas in 2008. Now the Sharks, the NHL’s best road team during the regular season, have lost two straight away from San Jose for the first time since Dec. 18 and 20.
Game 5 is Saturday night in San Jose.
Most of Nashville’s fans stuck around for the finish and had just given the Predators a standing ovation a couple minutes before Fisher’s game-winning goal gave them a reason to celebrate.
Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who made 41 saves himself including a great stop on a backhander off Colin Wilson’s breakaway earlier in the period, was at the edge of the crease. Fisher scored into the net behind Jones and was so tired he almost forgot how he scored.
“That was a good play to get (Mattias) Ekholm free in the middle there,” Fisher said. “He got a shot through, and I just kind of go in there and got the rebound and (got) it home.”
Fisher started the scoring for Nashville at 9:50 of the first period. Colin Wilson also scored.
Brent Burns scored twice, and Joonas Donskoi also had a goal for San Jose.
In the first overtime, each team had plenty of chances. Predators center Ryan Johansen hit the far post at 5:00, while the Sharks nearly scored twice and thought they had scored on a third try. Joel Ward couldn’t convert on a wraparound try, while Rinne stopped the puck with his left leg after Sharks center Logan Couture skated up the slot.
Then Joe Pavelski grabbed the puck out of the air and then tapped the puck across the line at 7:34, but officials immediately ruled no goal for goaltender interference. They upheld that ruling after review for Pavelski crashing into Rinne and pinning him down before the puck crossed the line.
Both teams had plenty of chances in the second overtime. Rinne kept them playing with save after save, including one off a point-blank try by Tomas Hertl late. Nashville captain Shea Weber, with 45 minutes, 16 seconds of ice time, went to the box with 2:03 left in the overtime period for high-sticking Sharks defenseman Paul Martin.
Nashville killed off the penalty, setting up the third extra period.
This was the Predators’ first overtime game of this postseason. The Sharks lost 2-1 to the Kings in Game 3 of their first-round series.
Nashville played its pregame intro video before the start of the third overtime period and fans gave the Predators a standing ovation midway through that overtime after Nashville killed its sixth penalty of the game.
NOTES: Wilson passed now-Sharks forward Joel Ward (nine) for second-most playoff goals in franchise history with his 10th. Wilson also extended his points streak to five straight, tying Ward for the longest streak in franchise history. … Fisher extended his points streak to four straight games. … Predators center Mike Ribeiro was a healthy scratch for a second straight game.