Sergei Kostitsyn broke a tie early in the third period by scoring in his fifth straight game to lead the Nashville Predators to their fifth straight win, 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at HP Pavilion.
Pekka Rinne made 42 saves, and David Legwand also scored for the Predators, who have bracketed a pair of five-game winning streaks around a five-game skid in their past 15 contests.
"Our goaltender stole this one for us," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We battled pretty hard, but we looked like a tired hockey team."
Rookie Logan Couture scored the lone goal for San Jose, which has dropped three straight home games this week. The Sharks have lost four straight at home, dating to last month, and have scored just four goals in those losses, including a pair of shutouts.
The most recent blanking by Buffalo on Thursday night prompted a scolding by general manager Doug Wilson, who has grown frustrated by the inconsistent play by last year's Western Conference runner-ups.
"I was getting a lot of chances, they just weren't going in," Couture said. "I think you lose a game and it feels awful. You lose three in a row all at home, in this building, one of the toughest buildings in the league for a team to come in and play, it's just not right. It's embarrassing to lose three in a row."
The Sharks continue to slip in the standings. They had a chance to take the lead early in the third period but Rinne made a nice stop on Devin Setoguchi's shot from the side of the net in the opening minute. Rinne also stopped Joe Thornton from in close on a power play a few minutes later.
"We've been streaky," Rinne said. "Hopefully we can turn that around. It's frustrating when you play like that. If we want to be one of the top teams, we have to be more consistent. I think we're headed in the right direction."
Kostitsyn then provided the tiebreaker. He beat Jason Demers to the rebound of a shot by Patric Hornqvist at the side of the net and knocked it past Antti Niemi to give the Predators a 2-1 lead 6:23 into the third. That extended Kostitsyn's career-best scoring streak and proved to be the game-winner.
Rinne was tested throughout the rest of the third period, making a particularly tough save against Patrick Marleau a few minutes after Kostitsyn's goal. Rinne then stopped shots from Setoguchi and Thornton on a 3-on-2 with less than 8 minutes to go. Couture hit the post in the closing seconds to end hopes of a comeback.
Couture ended a more than five-period scoring drought for the Sharks and his own seven-game run without a goal with the equalizer early in the second period. He skated up ice on a 2-on-1 with Jamal Mayers and showed plenty of patience as he came into the offensive zone before firing a shot that beat Rinne to make it 1-1 with his team leading 19th goal.
"We knew they were going to come out and press," Nashville captain Shea Weber said. "We were still a little bit flat-footed. Pekk saved us and gave us a chance to keep battling."
Niemi helped preserve the tie heading into the third when he made a sharp stop of a deflection by Marek Svatos.
One game after being unable to score on 36 shots against Buffalo's Ryan Miller, the Sharks again peppered the net with shots early but were unable to score. Rinne stopped Jamal Mayers and Ryane Clowe from in close during one stretch midway through the period and made a glove save after a bad line change against Setoguchi later in the first.
In between those two sequences, the Predators took advantage of a turnover in the defensive zone by Dan Boyle, who was unable to control a lose puck with his glove while on his knees. Legwand came up with the loose puck and fired a shot that Niemi saved with his pad. Legwand beat Setoguchi to the loose puck and knocked the rebound past Niemi with a backhand to make it 1-0, drawing boos from the crowd.
"I don't know what the answer is," Boyle said. "The last thing we need on this hockey team is to feel sorry for ourselves. It's very important that we stay together and not go, 'Why us' or 'Why me.' I think we have to find a way."
Wild 4, Penguins 0 | HIGHLIGHTS
Jose Theodore made 26 saves for his 30th career shutout, and Minnesota shut down the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins at the Consol Energy Center. Theodore improved 19-4-3 all-time against Pittsburgh.
Theodore, 17-1-3 in his past 21 starts against Pittsburgh, has won each of the past four games in leading Minnesota to a season-high winning streak while starter Niklas Backstrom is out with a groin injury.
"Right now, we are rolling with him," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "He is on top of his game."
Chuck Kobasew, Martin Havlat, Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak scored for the Wild, who is on a 8-2-1 stretch and has won three straight road games for the first time since the start of the 2008-09 season.
The Wild are 9-2-1 against the Penguins. Minnesota has won six of seven games in Pittsburgh, having never allowed more than two goals in a game there.
Crosby missed his second straight game because of a concussion, and the NHL's leading scorer isn't expected to play Monday against Boston or Wednesday at Montreal. Pittsburgh is 21-12-8 in games Crosby has sat out and has won only one of seven games this season in which he didn't play or didn't record a point.
"Obviously we miss the best player in the game right now," Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis said. "But I think we have a pretty deep team. We've just got to chip in, me included."
Theodore saved a shot from in close by Evgeni Malkin, 5 minutes in. He also made a nice stop on Arron Asham early in the third. But without Crosby, Pittsburgh didn't test him much beyond that and was shut out for the second time this season.
"I sensed a frustrated group over on the other side," Richards said.
The Penguins have lost four of five and are 5-5-2 since having a 12-game winning streak snapped.
"It happens to every team, I guess," defenseman Kris Letang said. "We just haven't played our game since the first loss after our streak. We just need to get back to our game and work harder and play better.
"We didn't create anything tonight," Letang added. "It's tough to score goals when you don't create."
Kobasew gave the Wild a 1-0 lead with 6:37 left in the first when a shot by Mikko Koivu deflected off his body and into the net while he stood just in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Havlat made it 2-0 4:43 later. Brodziak won a faceoff in the Penguins end, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard took a shot. Havlat beat the Pittsburgh defense to the rebound and fired a shot between Fleury's legs.
Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek hit the post with a slap shot from the point 3 minutes into the third, and Asham was denied by Theodore on an open shot from the right circle 3 minutes later.
Seconds after that, Clutterbuck beat Fleury with a similar shot from a similar spot on the opposite end of the ice. Clutterbuck had struggled off the ice after blocking a Paul Martin shot off his calf later in the second period.
The Penguins pulled Fleury during a 4-on-4 situation with 3:20 to play. Soon after the faceoff in the Wild zone, Brodziak iced the game when he flipped a puck from his own end that slowly trickled into the empty net to make it 4-0 with 2:59 left.
"We're playing so well, boxing out so I can see the puck, and when you can see those pucks, you can control rebounds so there's no second shots," Theodore said. "Right now we're all in sync in our own zone, from the defense and the goalie to the forwards."
Lightning 2, Senators 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves, Adam Hall and Martin St. Louis scored third-period goals as Tampa Bay rallied past Ottawa at Scotiabank Place.
After giving up a goal in the second period, Roloson stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third for the Lightning, who have now won 10 of their last 13 games.
"At the end of the day it's a win for us, but we just need to start better, have that focus from the start of the game and that's what (coach) Guy (Boucher) said to us pretty loudly," Lightning center Steven Stamkos said.
Zack Smith scored the only goal for Ottawa and Brian Elliott had 25 saves, who also dropped a shootout decision against Chicago on Friday. The Sens are winless in five straight.
Following a scoreless first period, Smith skated with Jesse Winchester on a 2-on-1 late in the second. Winchester hit his teammate with a centering pass and Smith scored to make it 1-0 with 2:35 remaining in the period.
"When you're losing it's definitely an uphill battle to get back on the winning end," Smith said. "We're confident we will and once we do I think we'll be able to capitalize on the chances."
But the Lightning tied it when forward Dominic Moore came up with the puck in the slot, skated to the bottom of the left circle and found Hall all alone in front for an easy goal at 1:47.
The go-ahead goal came less than four minutes later at 5:43, when St. Louis found a loose puck in front of the Ottawa net and stuffed it home for his 18th of the season.
"We had so many chances so you've got to give Roloson some credit," Sens forward Nick Foligno said. "I think if we continue to play like that we'll start getting some wins."
Rangers 2, Blues 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
Martin Biron stopped 24 shots and made Sean Avery's go-ahead goal in the second period stand up in as New York edged St. Louis at the Scottrade Center. Biron had been 0-7-2 in his career against St. Louis.
"I kind of just saw it before the game and I said, 'Well, that's kind of funny,"' Biron said. "It could be a good game to go on a winning streak."
Brandon Dubinsky had two assists - also helping to set up Derek Stepan's goal -- for the Rangers, the only NHL team that hadn't beaten the Blues in regulation the last 10 seasons. New York leads the NHL with 31 road points (15-7-1). The Rangers earned a shootout victory at Dallas on Friday and are 10-1 on the back end when playing on consecutive nights.
"We weren't spot on. Our team's tired, we're a little bit beat up," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "But we grinded. That's who we are, that's how we're going to have to play."
The Rangers have won three in a row and sent the Blues to their third straight loss. They beat the Blues in regulation for the first time in 12 games since Nov. 22, 2000.
"It's about finding ways and showing a lot of that resiliency, a lot of that battle," Biron said. "Playing hard, that's our identity."
The Blues' Brad Winchester opened the scoring on a deflection early in the second period.
St. Louis squandered a chance to tie it late, but got only one shot during a four-minute power play after Avery was whistled for high-sticking. The Blues were 0 for 6 on the power play, and the missed opportunity on the Avery penalty really hurt.
"Their four guys outworked our five throughout the four minutes," Blues forward David Backes said. "That kind of typifies the game. They're a team coming in here tired, and we didn't make them skate or make them pay for everything they achieved.
"And we didn't capitalize on our chances when we had them."
Biron also was put to the test in the second period, and had a strong response. He stopped six shots during a power play, and thwarted Matt D'Agostini on a breakaway, keeping the Blues from taking a two-goal lead.
"It's one of those saves where you feel really good about the way the game is going to go," Biron said. "It's 1-0 and that could be a big change, but now you're feeling like we're going to get going, and that's what happened."
Stepan's 12th goal beat Jaroslav Halak between the legs to tie it at 1 midway through the second. Avery's second of the season at 15:26 erased momentum the Blues had built while taking nine straight shots.
Dubinsky emerged from the scrum with the puck and fed it to Marian Gaborik, whose fluttering one-timer deflected off Halak's chest and sailed over his helmet, landing near the goal line. Avery tapped it in for his first goal since Oct. 27.
The Blues were held to a season-low two shots in a scoreless first period, when New York managed only six. St. Louis scored on its second shot of the second period, taking the lead on Winchester's deflection.
Winchester has scored in consecutive games for the first time and has seven goals this season.
Kings 6, Blue Jackets 4 | HIGHLIGHTS
Jarret Stoll scored two goals, one shorthanded, and Los Angeles snapped a five-game losing streak with a victory against Columbus at the Staples Center.
After the game, the Kings announced they gave defenseman Jack Johnson a seven-year, $30.5 million contract extension. Johnson had three assists Saturday.
Dustin Brown ignited a three-goal first period with his team-high 17th goal, rookie defenseman Alec Martinez scored during a power play and Ryan Smyth added a much-needed insurance goal after Columbus cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-3. Justin Williams scored into an empty net during a power play with 31 seconds remaining. Defensemen Drew Doughty had had two assists as did Marco Sturm.
Jonathan Quick made 31 saves for the Kings, who reached the midway point of their schedule with a 23-17-1 record. Last season, when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, they were 23-15-3 after their first 41 games.
"It's not how we drew it up," Stoll said of the victory. "It was huge. We needed it bad. We pulled out the two points, and that's all that matters. The bottom line is you've got to win games."
Rick Nash scored twice in the third period for Columbus, Fedor Tyutin also scored and Matt Calvert got his first NHL goal. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Blue Jackets from starting a calendar year with four straight losses for the first time in the franchise's 10-year history.
"We can't get down to any team 4-0, but I liked the way we battled back," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "We made a game of it and it got close there at the end."
Columbus surrendered its sixth shorthanded goal and second in two nights at 7:12 of the second period after getting caught on a line change. Stoll completed a 2-on-1 break with Sturm against Kris Russell, scoring his 11th of the season for a 4-0 lead against former Kings goalie Mathieu Garon while teammate Kyle Clifford was off for hooking Nash.
It was the 12th straight unanswered goal allowed by the beleaguered Blue Jackets, including six by Anaheim on Friday and Phoenix's final two goals of a 4-2 win on Tuesday.
That streak ended with a fluke goal at 13:30 of the second period by Calvert, a 21-year-old left wing who was playing in his second game since being promoted from Springfield of the AHL.
Calvert got his stick on Brown's intended cross-ice pass for Doughty in the Kings' zone and the puck ricocheted right to Quick, who fanned on the clearing attempt and then sprawled backward in a desperate attempt to smother it with his glove.
Calvert was back on the bench before the goal was upheld by video review, and he broke out in a huge grin while his teammates congratulated him.
The Kings, who squandered a 2-0 lead in their 5-2 loss to Nashville on Thursday, jumped out to a 3-0 advantage against the Blue Jackets by the 15:50 mark of the first period. Brown began the barrage at 2:13 with a 30-foot slap shot from the right circle after getting a behind-the-back pass from by Anze Kopitar.
Antoine Vermette was off for holding Michal Handzus when Martinez scored at 9:24 on a 55-foot slap shot from the slot that went between the legs of Handzus as he screened Garon at the lip of the crease.
Stoll then converted a centering pass from Doughty, who got the puck at the left boards from Ryan Smyth.
"You can't let them back in the game like we did," Kopitar said. "At the end of the day, two points is two points. That's all we were looking for. We've got to build off the first period and go from there."
Capitals 3, Panthers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS
Alex Ovechkin scored what proved to be the game-winner late in the third period and Mike Green and Eric Fehr had two points apiece as Washington edged Florida at the Verizon Center.
For NHL.com's full recap, click here.
Sabres 2, Coyotes 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS
Drew Stafford beat Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera with a wrist shot with 1:48 left in overtime and the Sabres ended a three-game Western road string with five of a possible six points and collected their fifth straight win at Jobing.com Arena.
For NHL.com's full recap, click here.
Islanders 4, Avalanche 3 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS
John Tavares scored with 68 seconds left in overtime as New York rallied from an early 2-0 deficit and helped Kevin Poulin notch his first NHL victory against Colorado at the Pepsi Center.
For NHL.com's full recap, click here.