Following a disappointing loss to a team with no playoff aspirations, the Nashville Predators look to regroup against one of the top teams in the Western Conference when they host the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
The Predators (38-16-3) own the best record in the West, and have been nearly unbeatable at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, but that didn’t stop them from losing 4-1 at home on Saturday to lowly Los Angeles, the worst team in the West.
Nashville was held without a first-period goal for just the second time in the last 20 games and the loss snapped a franchise-record eight-game home winning streak.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in the other dressing room, we have to be prepared every single night,” Predators forward Steve Sullivan said. “Games like this make it tougher for us coming down the stretch, coming down to those last 10 or 12 games, when were losing games like this.
“We have to win more games, against San Jose, Detroit, Anaheim, not saying we can’t do it, we’re just putting ourselves in a tough position.”
Despite Saturday’s loss, the Predators still own the third-best home record in the league at 20-4-3.
The Sharks (36-19-1), meanwhile, own the best road record in the league at 18-8-0. They won 6-5 at St. Louis on Tuesday to win the first two games of their season-high eight-game road trip .
Although San Jose is playing well on the road, it’s had no luck in Nashville lately. The Predators have won six straight home games over the Sharks since a 2-1 loss on Oct. 24, 2002.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been in net for the Predators in each game during that win streak against San Jose, posting a 2.14 goals-against average. Vokoun stopped 24 shots in their 4-3 win over the Sharks on Oct. 26, and is 11-8-0 with a tie and a 2.74 GAA in his career against them.
Vokoun, who missed 20 games with a left thumb injury from earlier this season, made 27 saves Saturday but lost his first game at home since Oct. 21.
San Jose pulled within a point of Pacific Division-leading Anaheim with Tuesday’s victory, and has won three of its last four games.
The Sharks nearly gave Tuesday’s game away, though, as they allowed the Blues to comeback from a 5-1 deficit.
“They just kept pressing us and we opened up our defense,” said rookie Ryane Clowe, who scored his 13th goal. “We just have to tighten up, and I’m sure we’ll go over some things to make sure we do.”
Thornton has one goal and 11 assists in his last six games, and has tormented the Predators in his career. The reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner has six assists in two games against Nashville this season, and five goals with 11 assists during an eight-game point streak against them.