By Kahlil Najar
NASHVILLE -The red hot Nashville Predators (16-14-3) wont their third straight game and beat the San Jose Sharks (20-7-6), 3-2. San Jose is now 1-4-1 in their last six games and have only scored 11 goals. Dan Boyle scored his sixth goal of the year and Antti Niemi stopped 20 of 23 for his fifth loss of the year.
“We weren’t nearly aggressive enough,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan. “It’s amazing, in the third when we played on the inside a little bit more, we got more second chances, kept the forecheck alive, we were a much different team. I’m a bit disappointed in the first period and a half to two periods.”
Nashville defenseman Victor Bartley got the Predators on the board at 16:01 of the first period when he shot a wicked wrister at the net from just above the left circle and beat Niemi. The Predators connected on their first power play of the night after when Nick Spaling won the puck along the boards and got it over to Craig Smith behind the net. Smith found defenseman Roman Josi streaking in and Josi’s wrist shot beat Antti Niemi to the glove side to give Nashville the 2-0 lead.
The Sharks finally got in the scoring column in the third when Sharks center Patrick Marleau won the puck behind the net and found Matt Irwin high in the slot. Dan Boyle deflected Irwin’s shot between Hutton’s legs and made it 2-1. The Predators Viktor Stalberg made it 3-1 with 2:39 left when he beat Niemi low to the glove side on a 2-on-1 breakaway. The Sharks pulled Niemi and with the extra man, Markeau redirected a pass from Dan Boyle and got it past Hutton with 54.6 seconds left and brought it to a final score of 3-2.
“Every game we play it seems the team that wins the special teams play, wins the game,” San Jose’s Joe Thornton said. “Tonight they got the one power-play goal and we didn’t, and that’s basically what the NHL comes down to right now, who is better on special teams.”
Logan Couture echoed, “We have to be better on the road. We know how big points are right now. It’s a tough loss.”
The Sharks hope to get back in the win column when they head to St. Louis for an evening game this Tuesday at 8PM EST.