SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — 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.