Sharks advance to Conference semifinals with 3-2 win over Predators

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Patrick Marleau scored his second goal with 4:21 left in regulation as the Sharks grabbed a berth in their third straight Western Conference semifinals, beating Nashville 3-2 on Friday night.

Marleau tied the game with a power-play goal late in the second period, and Ryan Clowe also scored as the Sharks closed out Nashville with a Game 5 win on the Predators' home ice for a second straight year.

Jason Arnott scored a power-play goal, and Vernon Fiddler also had a goal as Nashville blew a 2-1 lead in a penalty-filled second period. The Predators totalled 19 of 29 penalty minutes, including a five-minute major during which Marleau tied the game.

The Predators had two full power-play chances in the third period and had the man advantage for the final 24.1 seconds. But it didn't help, and the Sharks ended the series by clearing the puck with 10 seconds left.

The Predators lost for the third time when facing elimination, and this one hurt the most for a franchise that stocked up on talent, signing Arnott, J.P. Dumont and then trading for Peter Forsberg in February in a deal costing two players and two draft picks.

They finished third in the NHL in points with 110, but couldn't beat out Detroit in the Central Division, forcing Nashville into a repeat of last year's quarter-finals.

San Jose controlled the first period and led 1-0 after Clowe tapped in the puck off a rebound of Steve Bernier's shot. The Sharks dominated as they outshot Nashville, kept the puck in front of goalie Tomas Vokoun most of the period and broke up passes to frustrate the Predators' offence.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead by scoring twice in 39 seconds of the second period, finally getting their only power play through the first 40 minutes. Sharks defenceman Scott Hannan tried to clear Shea Weber's shot as it bounced toward the line, only to see Arnott tap it in at 3:47.

Fiddler scored his first of this postseason from the right circle off a pass from Forsberg.

But unlike San Jose, staying out of the penalty box was the Predators' problem in this series, robbing Forsberg, Paul Kariya and Arnott of ice time as they killed off repeated penalties. It happened again in the second period, where the Sharks kept their poise and had five power plays, including 38 seconds of a 5-on-3.

Vokoun did his best to stop the Sharks until Scott Nichol picked up a five-minute major and game misconduct for slashing Hannan after being knocked down twice. Hannan also went to the box for interference.

Marleau tied it 2-2 when Bill Guerin found him with a pass at the right post. Marleau kicked the puck to his stick, then scored at 17:46.

Notes: Officials reviewed two potential goals for the Sharks only to rule no goal, including one that bounced off the left post. ... This was San Jose's 100th all-time post-season game. The Sharks are 49-51 and 8-9 in elimination games. ... Nashville goalie Chris Mason turned 31 on Friday.



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