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Marleau, Bernier help Sharks end Preds' playoff run

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- San Jose coach Ron Wilson can rest easy
now for a few days along with his Sharks.

Patrick Marleau and Steve Bernier each scored power-play goals,
and the Sharks made quick work of the Nashville Predators,
eliminating them with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Sunday night to
reach the Western Conference semifinals for a second straight
season.

"It obviously takes away some of the anxiety you feel when you
don't close a team out," Wilson said.

"These are the games when you get the most nervous in a
clinching-type game because if they win, they are going to gather
some momentum. ... We wanted to finish it off to get some rest."

Now Wilson doesn't have to worry about blowing a 3-1 lead, just
resting up and waiting to see who the fifth-seeded Sharks play in
the semifinals with the possibility of starting at home next
weekend.

"It'll be good to get a couple days to refresh and energize the
body," Sharks center Joe Thornton said.

Nashville had been hoping to tap what had been the NHL's best
home-ice advantage in the regular season to force Game 6 on Tuesday
night in San Jose. But the Predators couldn't sell out the arena,
and their best wasn't enough on a night when Marleau -- San Jose's
captain -- scored his postseason-best seventh goal.

"He played best when it mattered most," Wilson said.

With Marleau adding to the offensive power of the NHL's best
point producer in Thornton and top goal scorer in Jonathan
Cheechoo, the Sharks won their fourth straight game.

"They were on a roll, but we certainly did it to ourselves,"
Nashville goalie Chris Mason said.

The Predators refused to go away easily. Paul Kariya scored his
second goal of the series on a power play at 11:06 of the third,
pulling Nashville to 2-1. Nashville got another man advantage,
hoping to tie the game.

But Vesa Toskala smothered the only power-play shot by Marek
Zidlicky with 4:21 left, and the Sharks ran out the clock even as
the Predators pulled their goalie in the final minute for the extra
attacker.

"Without him, we'd probably be going home for Game 6," Sharks
defenseman Kyle McLaren said.

San Jose had too much for Nashville. With top goalie Tomas
Vokoun out with a blood condition, the Predators were outshot
171-137 in the series, gave up 10 power-play goals and matched
their longest skid of the season in bowing out.

"Penalties killed us all year even after being addressed,"
Kariya said. "Guys need to adjust to calls."

Marleau's goal came a minute after officials missed McLaren
decking Kariya down to the ice, instead calling Nashville left wing
Martin Erat for retaliating.

"It's his penalty to take," McLaren said. "I really don't
know what he was thinking. I thought it was a clean hit. In the
end, it cost them the game-winning goal. Something we try to do is
draw penalties when we can."

That had the fans booing the officials lustily through most of
the power play. It didn't matter as Thornton brought the puck up
and passed it to Marleau in the crease where he tipped it past
Chris Mason's outstretched skate.

The Predators opened with a flurry and took nine of the first 12
shots. But Toskala stopped each shot, and the Sharks took eight of
the last nine shots in the first period.

"We were really expecting that storm coming from a desperate
team down 3-1," Toskala said. "We survived that first end, and
that was the key."

Scott Hannan started the first goal by getting the puck to Milan
Michalek who took it up the left boards and shot from the left
circle, and Bernier was given credit for bumping it past Mason with
0.3 seconds left on the clock. The green light marking the end of
the period went off, and officials reviewed the video.

With fans chanting "No goal! No goal!" officials ruled the
puck crossed the line before time expired.

Game notes
San Jose scratched center Alyn McCauley. He has played most
of this season with a leg injury that may need surgery. ...
Nashville scratched rookie defenseman Shea Weber for the first time
in this series, giving veteran center Yanic Perreault his first
start with defenseman Marek Zidlicky feeling better. ... The
Predators reassigned right wing Jordin Tootoo, who played in the
first three games of this series, to Milwaukee of the AHL on
Sunday. He scored a goal in Milwaukee's 4-1 Game 7 win over Iowa.
... Nashville coach Barry Trotz is 3-8 in the playoffs, while San
Jose coach Ron Wilson's career record is 33-32.