The Nashville Predators have been tough to beat on the road this season, but winning at San Jose has not been easy for them in recent years.
The Predators try to wrap up their four-game road trip with their first win at HP Pavilion in four years when they visit the Sharks on Saturday.
Nashville (18-7-3) defeated the Sharks 4-3 on Oct. 26, but has lost its last four games at San Jose (20-9-0). The Predators have not won there since a 4-2 win on Dec. 7, 2002.
The Predators improved to 12-6 on the road this season with a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday.
While Nashville is tied with Buffalo for the most road wins in the NHL, the Sharks are one of the best home teams in the league.
San Jose is 9-3-0 at HP Pavilion, but lost 5-2 to Colorado on Thursday, snapping a five-game home winning streak. The team was returning home after a 3-1 road trip.
“I’ve seen this before,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “Your first game back after a fairly successful road trip, and your guys aren’t ready to play.”
Thursday’s game began a stretch in which San Jose plays 12 of 15 games at the Shark Tank.
San Jose owes much of its home success to the play of its special teams and goaltending.
The Sharks are killing 94.3 percent of opponents’ power-play opportunities at home, and Evgeni Nabokov is 4-2 with a 1.17 goals-against average and three shutouts at HP Pavilion this season.
Nabokov, who will likely get the start for this game after Vesa Toskala started the last game, is 7-6 with a 2.12 GAA this season.
He is 6-7 with two ties and a 2.18 GAA in his career versus the Predators, but has allowed 11 goals in losing his last three starts against them.
The Central Division-leading Predators ended a three-game losing streak with their win over the Kings, as rookie Alexander Radulov scored his eighth goal in 15 NHL games.
Radulov, who was the 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft, scored his first career goal against the Sharks on Oct. 26.
“He’s just a pure goal-scorer,” Nashville goalie Chris Mason said. “Some guys are just that way. He’s really deceptive with the way he shoots the puck and he finds a way to put it in the net. That’s his forte. He’s really showed that he deserves to be here.”
Mason, making his seventh consecutive start since Tomas Vokoun tore ligaments in his left thumb on Nov. 23, stopped 20 shots on Thursday. Mason is 4-2-1 with a 2.86 GAA since Vokoun got injured.
“Chris has been great,” teammate Paul Kariya said. “He played extremely well for us last year when Vokie went down, and he’s been fantastic for us this year. It’s terrific to have two goalies like that and know whoever’s playing is going to be there for you.”
Kariya had his team-high 20th assist on Scott Hartnell’s team-leading 11th goal against the Kings.
Kariya has four goals and two assists in his last three games against the Sharks, while Hartnell had two goals against them earlier this season.
Right wing Steve Sullivan, who leads the Predators with 27 points, left Thursday’s game in the first period after sustaining a groin injury on his seventh shift. Coach Barry Trotz said he is doubtful for this game.