They showed Friday night they’re big enough now not to back down from anyone.
J.P. Dumont scored an unassisted short-handed goal, then added a power-play goal 2½ minutes later, and the Predators evened their Western Conference quarter-final by beating San Jose 5-2.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night in San Jose.
Peter Forsberg scored two goals, rookie Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist in the first period, and Marek Zidlicky had two assists as the Predators made sure this series will return to Nashville for Game 5.
Craig Rivet scored for San Jose, which outshot Nashville 24-22.
These teams haven’t been happy with each other since Wednesday night.
San Jose forward Jonathan Cheechoo was knocked out of that game with a sprained knee. The Sharks keep calling it a dirty hit, which the Predators called an unfortunate collision that should not have resulted in Scott Hartnell’s ejection.
With emotions high, the teams combined for 25 penalties – 10 in the first period alone – with officials busy separating players. Nashville coach Barry Trotz yelled at officials from the bench after Hartnell was called for a tripping penalty in the first session.
When Forsberg clinched the victory with an empty-net goal with 65 seconds left, things disintegrated with three separate fights off the ensuing faceoff and five players ejected.
The worst of the rugged play came much earlier. Radulov skated up and elbowed Steve Bernier into the boards at 4:44 of the second, snapping Bernier’s head back before the Sharks forward fell face-first onto the ice. A stretcher was called for before Joe Thornton and Marcel Goc helped him off.
Officials gave Radulov a five-minute major and game misconduct. But San Jose could not score, not even with a 5-on-3 advantage for 61 seconds at the end of that major.
Jordin Tootoo, who served the major, skated out of the box and helped clear the puck. Dumont collected it and skated up and beat Evgeni Nabokov with a wrist shot.
Goc and San Jose forward Ryan Clowe went to the box together 34 seconds later, giving Nashville its own 5-on-3. With four seconds left, Zidlicky found Dumont at the edge of the left circle, and he scored as Nabokov flung himself back into the net trying to stop the puck.
San Jose outshot Nashville 12-5 in the first and led 1-0 after Rivet beat Tomas Vokoun on the rebound of his own shot.
But Vernon Fiddler beat San Jose rookie defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to a loose puck down the left boards, reached around Vlasic and flipped the puck toward the net. Radulov was there and scored on a wrist shot to tie it. Radulov also had an assist on Forsberg’s goal for a 2-1 lead.
Cheechoo played and had his first point on an assist of Clowe’s goal midway in the third.
Notes: Bernier did not return as a precaution and had his head and neck X-rayed. … San Jose went 0-for-5 on the power play. … Radulov, who had two goals in Game 1, was the first NHL player to score two goals in his playoff debut since teammate Paul Kariya, who had two April 16, 1997, against Phoenix. … Nashville had the celebrity power out, with 1984 Olympic gold medal figure skater Scott Hamilton and country singers Rodney Crowell and Barbara Mandrell in attendance. The Predators even had season-ticket holders Vince Gill and Amy Grant sing the U.S. national anthem.