Sharks 2, Predators 1

With their power play clicking for the first time in more than a

month, the San Jose Sharks found that early season form that helped

them get off to such a fast start.

Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski got San Jose’s struggling power-play

unit going with goals that helped the Sharks beat the Nashville

Predators 2-1 on Saturday night.

”Without the power play tonight that’s a goose egg and that’s

not a good thing,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”It came through,

and if you can count on your power play for something once every

four or five times that would be a really good thing for our team

right now.”

The Sharks had converted on just three of their past 62

power-play chances heading into the game, a major reason for a

February swoon that featured 10 losses in 12 games.

But with the man-advantage unit clicking as it did in scoring 12

goals the first five games, San Jose again looked like the team

that started the lockout-shortened season with a franchise-record

seven straight wins in January.

Joe Thornton and Logan Couture assisted on both goals, and Antti

Niemi made 18 saves for the Sharks, who moved from a tie for eighth

into a tie for fourth in the tightly packed Western Conference, one

point ahead of the Predators. San Jose got five out of a possible

six points on a three-game homestand after winning just once on a

six-game trip.

The Predators were hoping for a better result after practicing

on the two off days in San Jose following a 5-1 loss at Anaheim on

Wednesday night. Instead they fell for the sixth time in eight

games, getting only a short-handed goal by Gabriel Bourque with

5:30 remaining.

”We have to find a way to win games,” defenseman Roman Josi

said. ”It doesn’t matter if you win them 1-0 or whatever. We just

have to outwork the other teams. That’s our game.”

Despite only 12 shots on goal the first two periods, the

Predators tested Niemi a few times but he was up to the task. He

had made two tough saves to stop Paul Gaustad midway through the

second period right before Ryan Ellis was called for tripping

Andrew Desjardins in the offensive zone.

The Sharks didn’t wait long to make Nashville pay as Couture

poked the puck from behind the net in front, and Pavelski knocked

it in before Pekka Rinne even saw it just 16 seconds into the power

play to make it 2-0.

”It’s just one of those broken plays you find yourself scoring

on so many more times than the nice plays,” Pavelski said. ”Cooch

kept it alive and Pekks didn’t know where it was back there and it

seems to be how you score these days.”

Bourque got the Predators back into it when Matt Irwin failed to

keep the puck in at the blue line on the power play. Bourque raced

to the loose puck and beat Niemi for the goal.

But Niemi and the Sharks held on for the win.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson criticized his team for

passing too much instead of shooting the puck, and the message

clearly got through as they put 16 shots on net in the opening

period to take a 1-0 lead.

”We knew they were a fast start team,” Nashville coach Barry

Trotz said. ”We knew they were going to throw a lot of pucks at

the net. That was stated by their team management and coaches. We

had to get through that first period. They jumped on us early and

got zone time.”

Rinne stopped all but one but was screened by Pavelski on

Boyle’s slapper from the point 19 seconds after Kevin Klein was

sent to the penalty box for slashing Logan Couture. The goal was

the first for Boyle since the second game of the season and the

first for any Sharks defender since Irwin scored on Jan. 26 against


”I’m just glad I got it through,” Boyle said. ”It’s been

tough this year getting the pucks through. We got a break. I think

the guy lost a stick, broke a stick and we got to move it around a

little bit. Pavs obviously a great screen in front. That was the

key there and I got my shot through.”

NOTES: Nashville F Brandon Yip left in the first period with an

upper body injury after crashing into the boards. … The Predators

failed to earn a point for just the second time in 11 games against

the Sharks. … Thornton got his 1,100th career point with an

assist on Pavelski’s goal. … San Jose has only five goals from

its defensemen all season. … Sharks F Marty Havlat left the game

in the third period with an undisclosed injury.