Power play comes through against Preds
Joe Thornton had two assists in Saturday's win against Nashville tallying his 1,100th career point. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski scored power play goals and Antti Niemi made 18 saves as the Sharks beat the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at HP Pavilion, 2-1.
The Sharks finished their three-game homestand with five of a possible six points, beating Colorado but losing to Detroit in a pair of games that were decided by a shootout. San Jose, which has nine of its next 11 games on the road, won for just the second time in regulation in the last 15 games.
The Sharks scored a power play goal in each of the first two periods to take a 2-0 lead.
Boyle’s third goal, and first since Jan. 22 at Edmonton, opened the scoring at 17:47 of the first. Pavelski set a perfect screen in front of goaltender Pekka Rinne, and Boyle’s shot from the high slot sailed into the net untouched.
Pavelski, who played with Rinne in the KHL during the lockout, got his seventh of the year at 9:12 of the second period. On another Sharks power play, Pavelski and Logan Couture battled for the loose puck with a couple Predators behind the net. Couture got just enough of the puck to poke it in front of the net, where Pavelski was there to flip it in.
For the Sharks, it was their first multiple power play goal game since Jan. 27 vs. Vancouver. San Jose was just 3-for-59 in the last 14 games.
Nashville turned up the volume in the third period. They got to within one on a shorthanded goal by Gabriel Bourque, who sped past Matt Irwin at the Sharks’ offensive blue line after Irwin failed to keep an airborne puck in the zone. Bourque’s goal at 14:30 brought the Predators back to within a goal.
Rinne left the net for an extra attacker with a minute and a half to go in regulation and briefly returned after a Predators icing call, but Nashville failed to get the equalizer.
The Sharks finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play, and had to kill off just one Nashville attempt.
San Jose’s lone penalty came on a poor boarding call to James Sheppard, who hit Jonathan Blum cleanly from the side before Blum crashed hard into the corner boards at 18:28 of the first period.
Niemi started his seventh straight game for the Sharks and recorded his ninth win.
Rinne, who was pulled in his last game in Anaheim after surrendering five goals through two periods, made 37 saves in a losing effort.
Michal Handzus missed the morning skate for an unspecified reason, but played anyway as the fourth line center. Andrew Desjardins returned after a one-game absence and lineup up as a wing on that line, while TJ Galiardi came out.
Marty Havlat did not play in the third period for reasons that were not immediately revealed by the Sharks.
Nashville’s Brandon Yip left after in first period with an upper body injury and did not return.
The Sharks have just two home games and nine games on the road between now and March 25. They host the Blues on March 9 and Kings on March 14. A brief two-game road trip begins in Vancouver on Tuesday and continues in Calgary on Wednesday.