Predators snap skid with 3-1 win over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — After starting their California swing with losses after regulation in Anaheim and Los Angeles, the Nashville Predators head home on a high note.
Ryan Johansen and James Neal scored goals to help the Predators snap a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
“It was huge for us to finish this trip the right way,” Johansen said. “We feel like we could have some better results and played a little better the first two games in Anaheim and L.A. But we came in here today and we executed our game plan for the most part and found a way to get two points.”
Backup goalie Juuse Saros made 25 saves for the win as the Predators killed all four power-play chances, including three after taking the lead midway through the second period. That was a key reversal for Nashville after allowing three goals on three chances Thursday in Los Angeles and six in 11 tries during the skid.
The final chance on the power play for San Jose came late in the third, but the Sharks couldn’t generate any good chances and Nashville iced the game with an empty-net goal by Viktor Arvidsson. The Predators lead the NHL with 10 short-handed goals.
“It was a great penalty kill,” said Neal, whose slashing penalty with 2:30 to play created the chance. “We got those big blocks at the end there. They have a great power play. To hold them off the scoresheet gives us a chance to win and that’s what happened.”
Paul Martin scored the lone goal for the first-place Sharks, who lost for just the second time in seven games.
San Jose still has a seven-point lead over Anaheim in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. Martin Jones made 22 saves.
“We came out in the second and tried and turn it into a track meet,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “It came back to bite us. These are desperate teams we are playing. We have to get our desperation level to an equivalent spot.”
The NHL’s best second-period team took the lead in the middle period thanks to a strong forecheck from Colin Wilson. Wilson took the puck away from Dylan DeMelo on a dump-in and quickly fed a wide-open Neal in front of the net for the goal that gave Nashville a 2-1 lead.
There were no other goals in the period that featured little action outside of a tame fight between San Jose’s Brenden Dillon and Austin Watson. The Predators have now outscored the opposition by an NHL-best 29 goals in the second period.
“We had a few breakdowns in the second where we got caught trading chances,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “It was one of those games where you wonder why you don’t get a couple more goals. It felt like we were in their end the whole time.”
The teams traded goals in the first period with the Sharks striking first after a faceoff win by Joe Thornton against Mike Fisher. Martin then took a shot from the point that went through a screen by Jannik Hansen to make it 1-0.
The Predators got the equalizer when Roman Josi’s soft point shot hit defenseman Justin Braun and went right to Johansen in the slot, who beat Jones for his 11th goal.
NOTES: Johansen won 14 of 15 faceoffs. ... After snapping an 0-for-10 drought on the man advantage with two power-play goals Thursday against Washington, the Sharks were blanked once again. ... Forward P.A. Parenteau made his debut for Nashville after being acquired from New Jersey before the trade deadline. Parenteau had been out with a finger injury.
Predators: Host Winnipeg on Monday.
Sharks: Host Dallas on Sunday.