San Jose looks to match the second-longest season-opening home winning streak in NHL history Tuesday night when it faces Nashville, which has dropped the first three games of a six-game road trip.
The Sharks (13-3-0) own a league-high 26 points, due mostly to their remarkable start at home. San Jose is 9-0-0 at HP Pavilion, matching the league’s third-best home win streak to open a season, and is the first team to win its first nine home games since the 1971-72 Chicago Blackhawks.
No team has opened with 10 consecutive home wins since the 1963-64 Blackhawks started a league-record 11-0-0 on home ice. The 1925-26 Ottawa Senators are the only other team to win its first 10 home games.
The Sharks are also riding a run of home success against Nashville, going 7-0-1 versus the Predators at HP Pavilion since the start of the 2003-04 season, including a pair of wins in 2007-08. The Sharks also took two meetings in Nashville last season for a sweep of the four-game series.
San Jose’s season-opening run hasn’t been easy. Four of its last six home victories have come by one goal, the most recent such game being a 2-1 win over Dallas on Saturday, when Patrick Marleau scored with 28.3 seconds remaining to lift the Sharks.
That victory was the seventh in a row overall for the Sharks, but their streak ended Sunday with a 4-2 loss at Phoenix.
“We had a letdown after we got up two-nothing,” said San Jose’s Brian Boucher, who made 26 saves. “I think we were a little bit casual there and it cost us.”
Boucher started only three games for the Sharks last season, but he may need to make his third consecutive start Tuesday. Top goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day.
Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo, whose hat trick lifted the Sharks to a 4-3 win Feb. 9 in the teams’ last matchup in San Jose, is day-to-day after an upper-body injury kept him out during the weekend.
While the Sharks have been perfect on home ice, the road continues to give Nashville problems. The Predators (6-7-1) have won five of six home games, but fell to 1-6-1 away from Gaylord Entertainment Center with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Colorado.
It was the second shutout loss on this season-high trip for Nashville, which fell 4-0 to Vancouver on Thursday. In the one game in which the Predators did score, they gave up their highest goal total of the season, losing 7-6 to Calgary on Saturday.
Dan Ellis stopped 19 shots against the Avalanche in suffering the tough-luck loss. Ellis also had hard luck in his only previous start versus San Jose, a 2-1 home defeat March 11 in which he made 40 saves.