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The first game of the 2022-23 NHL season is in the books, as the Nashville Predators came away with a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks and two points in the standings. Nashville’s newest players showed out in Prague, and the team is 1-0 as a result.

Just 61 seconds into the game, Kiefer Sherwood knocked home a rebound to give the Predators an early lead, and they controlled most of the game after that. Nashville was really able to take a hold on the matchup in the second period, when Eeli Tolvanen and Nino Niederreiter lit the lamp to give the team a 3-1 lead. Matt Duchene iced the victory with an empty-net goal late in the final frame.

The Sharks killed any hope of a comeback effort in the third period by parading to the penalty box, and the Predators were content to sit back and shut down their offensive attack at five-on-five. The biggest bright spot for San Jose in this game was Tomas Hertl, who scored the team’s first goal of the game in front of his hometown crowd.

The Preds and Sharks will reset and do it all over again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. ET in the second game of the season.

Newcomers make a big impact

In the offseason, the Predators made some notable additions by trading for defenseman Ryan McDonagh and signing free agent winger Nino Niederreiter. They also made another under-the-radar move by signing Kiefer Sherwood to a one-year contract. In the first game of the season, all three of those players contributed to the win. Sherwood was on the second line with Niederreiter, and those two showed some instant chemistry with center Ryan Johansen. Sherwood opened the scoring just 61 seconds into the game, and Niederreiter extended Nashville’s lead to 3-1 with a second-period goal. McDonagh assisted on Sherwood’s goal, and he formed a solid shutdown pair on defense with Mattias Ekholm.

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Hometown Hertl gets the crowd going

Tomas Hertl is a native of Prague, and the crowd was behind him from the introduction of the starting lineup. Not wanting to disappoint the fans in O2 Arena, Hertl scored a goal in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. There weren’t many positives for the Sharks in this game, but that moment for Hertl stands out as a bright spot. He and the rest of the Sharks will aim to give the fans more to cheer about in tomorrow’s game.

No rust for Juuse Saros

The Nashville goaltender suffered an ankle injury late in the regular season that kept him out of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Saros spent much of the offseason rehabbing that ankle, and he didn’t show any signs of rust against the Sharks on Friday. Saros stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, and he saved 1.94 goals above expected, according to Natural Stat Trick. Some of those stops were vintage Saros as he used his instincts and quickness to go post-to-post. The Predators have to be thrilled to see him back at his Vezina-calibre level after the injury.

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