Nashville (36-25-5) at San Jose (42-14-9)

Fair Currently: San Jose, CA
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Thu Mar 11, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators could be headed for a meeting in the playoffs. Judging by their regular season matchups, such a series would seem likely to be tightly contested.

The Sharks and Predators conclude their season series Thursday night at HP Pavilion after playing one-goal games in each of the first three matchups.

All of those games finished 4-3, with the Sharks winning twice. Eight of the last nine meetings were decided by one goal.

The Sharks (42-14-9) are battling Chicago for the top seed in the Western Conference while the Predators (36-25-5) are in seventh place, two points ahead of Calgary.

Nashville kept San Jose’s power play from being a factor as the clubs split the first two meetings in November, killing off all three chances. That wasn’t the case in the last matchup as Dany Heatley(notes) scored two power-play goals in the Sharks’ road win Feb. 3.

“They’re a good team, that’s why they’re one of the top teams, they respond well,” center Cal O’Reilly(notes) said about the Sharks. “They’ve got a lot of big guns.”

Heatley was limited to one assist and four shots on goal in the first two games.

Evgeni Nabokov(notes) sat out the first two games versus the Predators, then made 35 saves last month to move to 6-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average in his last seven starts against them.

Nabokov and the Sharks have posted consecutive one-goal wins, the most recent a 2-1 victory over Columbus on Saturday. Heatley scored his conference-leading 16th power-play goal and Joe Pavelski(notes) added the winner after San Jose trailed 1-0 through two periods.

The Sharks had 44 shots on goal, two nights after recording 40 as they rallied from a third-period deficit for a 3-2 win over Montreal.

“It’s not going to be an easy road by any means,” coach Todd McLellan said Saturday. “We can end up outchancing a team by a lot and still be in this type of game. The positive sign is two nights in a row we’ve been able to come back in the third.”

With four days off, McLellan did not want to work his team too hard as it begins a stretch of 11 games in 18 days.

“Trust me, those practices as the year goes on get shorter and shorter,” he said. “So you get less time to battle and compete.”

The Predators opened a four-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday. Ryan Suter(notes) scored on the power play and rookie Colin Wilson(notes) added a second first-period goal off a turnover.

“In the backstretch, it’s like playoff hockey,” Wilson said.

Dan Ellis(notes) made the early two-goal lead stand up with 30 saves. Ellis and Pekka Rinne(notes) have alternated the last four starts.

Ellis is 1-3-0 with a 3.25 GAA against San Jose and Rinne is 2-1-1 with a 2.70 GAA.

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Thursday, Mar 11