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Sharks rediscover power play in win over Predators

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks broke their recent power outage and rode the consistent goaltending of Antti Niemi to a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

San Jose, just 3 for 52 on the power play in February, started March off with a 2-for-3 man-advantage night. Niemi, meanwhile, stopped 18 shots and allowed two or fewer goals for the 12th time this season.

"We've been struggling to put the puck in the net, it was the last game of the homestand and we've got to find a way to climb back into it," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "The energy came from desperation, needing a win badly."

Nashville's lone goal came short-handed when Gabriel Bourque blew past San Jose rookie defenseman Matt Irwin on the way for a breakaway goal with 5:30 left in the game.

"We played a good 60 minutes 5-on-5, but we just have to get the special teams," Nashville forward Martin Erat said. "If they score two goals we have to get to three. That's the bottom line."

San Jose carried its first-period momentum into the middle period, scoring another power-play goal and dominating in shots.

Joe Pavelski scored his seventh goal of the season on a wrap-around at 9:12, 16 seconds after Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis was sent off to tripping Andrew Desjardins.

"Goal-scorers find ways to score goals and that's what Pavs did," linemate Logan Couture said of San Jose's Pavelski.

Joe Thornton picked up his second assist of the night to give the veteran center 1,100 career points to rank 56th on the league's all-time scoring list. His first-period assist tied Thornton with Glenn Anderson at 1,099 points.

"It's much more gratifying to get these accomplishments when you're winning," Thornton said.

San Jose outshot Nashville 13-6 in the period and held a 29-12 edge in shots through 40 minutes.

"We just have to get more goals, get more traffic in front of the net," Erat said.

The Sharks scored the only goal of the first period, a late power-play strike after the San Jose had dominated the opening 20 minutes in terms of shots and territorial advantage.

It took Boyle 19 seconds into a Kevin Klein tripping minor to convert his third goal of the season. Boyle beat screened Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with a blast from the center of the blue line at 17:47.

Pavelski was positioned in front of the net and San Jose benefitted from the fact Nashville penalty-killing forward Paul Gaustad lost his stick early during the 5-on-4.

"We got a break when the guy broke his stick, we were able to move it around a little bit," Boyle said.

The Sharks, who cranked off seven of the game's first eight shots, ran the advantage to 15-3 before Nashville closed the gap with three of the period's last four shots. San Jose outshot the visitors 13-6 in the second period and ended with a 39-19 edge overall.

"Offensively it was as sharp as we've been in quite a while," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

"We need to build off of this," Couture added. "If we get 40 shots every night I think we'll score more than two."

NOTES: Nashville right wing Brandon Yip suffered an upper-body injury early in the first period and did not return. ... Six of the previous seven Sharks' home games before Saturday went to a shootout. ... Nashville right wing Matt Halischuk was a healthy scratch. Hal Gill did not make the three-game trip to California as the veteran defenseman is nursing a lower-body injury. ... Forwards Tommy Wingels, T.J. Galiardi and defenseman Jason Demers did not dress for San Jose. ... The Sharks play four of their next five on the road starting with back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday in Vancouver and Calgary, respectively. ... Nashville caps the three-game West Coast swing Monday in Los Angeles.
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