Predators sink Sharks on Fisher’s goal in 3OT

Mike Fisher ended his own personal playoff drought with his first overtime goal in 12 years, giving the exhausted Nashville Predators plenty to celebrate.

Fisher scored his second goal at 11:12 of the third overtime, and the Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 early Friday morning in the longest game in franchise history.

“It took a long time, but thanks we have Fish,” Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said.

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. The Sharks needed only five games in beating Nashville in the first round in both 2006 and 2007. Nashville coach Peter Laviolette, in his second season, said teams have a lot invested in a game that goes this deep.

“To win a game like that is big,” Laviolette said. “To think about the other scenario, you’re 3-1 the other way. This ties it up 2-2. It shortens the series. Our guys played like champs tonight.”

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. Rinne made 44 saves to give Fisher a chance at his second playoff overtime goal in Fisher’s career and first since Game 6 with Ottawa in 2004. Stars 3, Blues 2

In St. Louis, Cody Eakin scored at 2:58 of overtime and Dallas beat the Blues, bouncing back from a blowout loss two days earlier to tie the second-round series at two games apiece.

Patrick Sharp set up the winner and also scored for the Stars, coming off a 6-1 loss in Game 3. Rookie Radek Faksa had the other goal.

Game 5 is on Saturday in Dallas.

Chayka gets promotion

The NHL has followed Major League Baseball’s analytical trend in recent years, relying more on advanced statistics to evaluate players and tendencies.

The Arizona Coyotes boosted their analytical abilities before last season by hiring John Chayka, co-founder of a hockey analytics firm, as their assistant general manager.

The Coyotes took another, bolder step toward a “Moneypuck” mentality on Thursday, announcing that the 26-year-old Chayka has been promoted to general manager, making him the youngest GM in league history and first with a primarily analytics background.

“Because of his age and the company he started, he gets painted with a very analytical brush, but what people are going to find out about John as he becomes more well-known is he’s a very smart guy, a very intelligent guy,” said coach Dave Tippett, who signed a five-year contract extension and will take on more responsibilities in personnel decisions.

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