SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — With five shootouts in their first eight games, the Nashville Predators are getting used to the tiebreaker system.
Craig Smith scored the lone goal in the shootout, and Pekka Rinne stopped all three San Jose attempts to help the Predators hand the Sharks their first loss of the season, 2-1 on Saturday night.
"We're getting in the right direction with the shootouts," captain Shea Weber said. "We're getting more confident with it. We wanted to get some points here in San Jose. It's a big two points for us."
Sergei Kostitsyn scored his first goal of the season to break a scoreless tie in the opening minute of the third period. Rinne made 26 saves through overtime and led the Predators to their second straight shootout win after they lost their first three this season.
Marty Havlat made up for a premature celebration that cost San Jose a goal by scoring the equalizer on the power play with 6:21 remaining in regulation.
But the Sharks were unable to get the next goal and missed a chance at their eighth straight victory to tie for the third longest season-opening winning streak in NHL history.
After becoming the third NHL team to ever win its first five games by at least two goals, the Sharks have played three straight shootouts as the play has gotten tighter in this lockout-shortened season.
"These are the type of games we're going to be involved in from now until the end of the year," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It can be a little frustrating that it's not a Picasso, but it's real."
Smith beat Antti Niemi with a backhand in the second round of the shootout, ending a stretch of six straight shootout stops by Niemi. The Predators got the win when Rinne stopped Joe Pavelski on the next attempt.
"I'm finally making some saves in the shootout," Rinne said. "It's been a challenge for us but already we're on our fifth shootout. That's quite a bit since we've played eight games. It was a big win for us. Smitty's goal in the shootout was nice, and this time I was able to make the saves we needed to get the win."
The Predators got on the board after Colin Wilson intercepted Brad Stuart's soft clearing attempt up the boards. With two Sharks closing in on him, Wilson slid a pass to Kostitsyn, who beat Niemi with a wrister on just his fifth shot this season.