Marleau picked up the puck in his own zone, raced up right wing and went right to the net before ripping a shot from the lower right circle past Pekka Rinne for his 27th goal of the season -- giving the Sharks their ninth win in 10 games and a five-point lead over Dallas in the Pacific Division.
"That's what Patty does," coach Todd McLellan said. "I think he is leading us in goals now and he scored some big ones down the stretch. He comes to play every night. I think his teammates and the coaching staff appreciate that from him."
Rinne got the Preds to OT with a brilliant performance in the third period, which saw the Sharks outshoot Nashville 13-4 and totally dominate play. He finished with 30 saves.
"We started playing the way we should have been playing in the first two periods," Marleau said. "We had lot of chances. You just keep trying, keep shooting. He's a big goalie; he made a lot of key stops tonight. The more shots you take, the better the odds that one will go in."
Coach Barry Trotz said his team showed the effects of their four-game road trip -- and of playing their 38th road game, more than anyone else in the NHL.
"We were a little bit tired," he said. "We went up to Edmonton and got there late. We got beat there (2-1) but they've been playing pretty well. We go into Vancouver and they are the first place team overall in the League. We got two points there. Calgary -- we played them tough but didn't get any points there, unfortunately. Then we play a first-place team in San Jose. Maybe the hottest team in the League. So we've played teams that have been good and hot. Obviously we'd like to get a few more points, but we're going home now.
The Sharks also got goals by Ryane Clowe and Justin Braun, as well as 23 saves by Antti Niemi. Joel Ward and Shea Weber scored for the Preds, who overcame a pair of one-goal deficits and head home with 76 points, one out of a playoff berth in the West.
Clowe opened the scoring 8:17 into the game on a power play without having to use his stick. Dany Heatley deflected Jason Demers' pass from the end boards into Clowe's left skate. The puck ricocheted up and over Rinne. The goal survived a video review.
Ward tied it at 14:22 when he tapped in his own deflected shot at 14:22 for his fourth goal in 11 career games against the Sharks.
The Sharks, third in the NHL in power-play success, went into the game mired in a 1-for-12 slump that has coincided with the absence of All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle, who's out with an upper-body injury. McLellan shook up his power-play unit and was rewarded when Braun scored from just inside the blue line near the Sharks bench 4:17 into the second period.
Nashville tied it again at 6:08 with a power-play goal of its own when David Legwand took a pass, skated in front of the net and fed Weber, who raced in from the left side and flipped a shot past Niemi.
The third period was all Sharks -- but ended without a goal.
"We had some really good chances in the third period," Clowe said. "Their goalie made some good saves. I think we expect every game to be close like this now, but we're finding ways to win."
Said Weber: "We fought hard. I think we were definitely hanging around in the third period. Pekka played great for us, and we were fortunate to get a point."
The best news for the Predators is that they'll spend most of the last month of the season at home. Nashville starts a five-game homestand against Minnesota on Thursday and has 12 of its next 14 at home before ending the season in St. Louis.
"We've got 15 games left. (Three) on the road and the rest at home," Trotz said. "We're one point out of the pack and we've got 12 home games left. So it's time to make a move at home here. If we do, we'll make the playoffs."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Ryane Clowe (19) ASST: Dany Heatley (32), Jason Demers (19)|
1 - 0 SJS
|PPG - Joel Ward (8) ASST: Martin Erat (26), Shea Weber (27)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Justin Braun (2) ASST: Dany Heatley (33), Ryane Clowe (31)|
2 - 1 SJS
|PPG - Shea Weber (14) ASST: David Legwand (19), Martin Erat (27)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Patrick Marleau (27) ASST: Ian White (17)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Jason Demers Holding against David Legwand|
|Ryane Clowe Hooking against Joel Ward|
|Shane O'Brien Hooking against Torrey Mitchell|
|Devin Setoguchi Too many men/ice - bench|
|Joe Thornton Elbowing against Ryan Suter|
|Patric Hornqvist Too many men/ice - bench|