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Jarnkrok's goal helps Predators edge Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Nashville Predators didn't score a goal in two shutout losses to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center last season.

But Eric Nystrom's scored 3:22 into the game and Calle Jarnkrok broke a tie with 11:08 remaining to lift the Predators to a 2-1 victory against the Sharks on Wednesday in the opener of a four-game road trip.

Pekka Rinne made 20 saves for the Predators (7-1-1), who sit atop the Western Conference.

Jarnkrok's first goal of the season on a 2-on-1 rush. Jarnkrok, who missed the game this past Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins because of an illness, took a cross-ice pass from Gabriel Bourque in the right circle and beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones with a shot inside the right post.

"I was just trying to get my legs going there in the first period," Jarnkrok said. "It got better in the second and better in the third. It was good to be back out there."

Nystrom beat Jones with a slap shot from the left circle, ripping the puck inside the left post. Jones had a clear view of the shot but couldn't make the save. Roman Josi and Paul Gaustad had the assists.

"It was a really nice breakout, starting from our own end," said Nystrom, who has three goals in nine games this season after scoring seven in 60 games in 2014-15. "We distributed the puck out wide, and Josi drove the lane. I was just the middle lane drive on a 3-on-2 break and he just laid it into me full speed and I just tried ripping it on net and it found the side on the stick side and went in. It felt good."

Nashville scored first for the eighth time in nine games this season and have outscored its opponents 7-0 in the first period.

"I think obviously the coaching staff has a big role in preparing us, really making sure we know who we play against and what kind of system and what kind of players," Rinne said. "And then it's up to every individual to bring up the energy and just get ready for the game. I think we've done a really good job so far."

Joe Pavelski scored for San Jose (5-4-0), and Jones made 22 saves.

"I thought we played a good game," Jones said. "I give up a couple of soft goals and that's the difference in the game. Early on in the game, you need a save. It's hard to come back against a tough defensive team with a good goalie."

The Sharks pulled even at 1:28 of the third period on Pavelski's fourth goal of the season. Pavelski was knocked down twice in front of the crease, but he got up a third time and hammered a rebound past Rinne.

Defenseman Matt Tennyson had the initial shot from long range that Rinne denied but couldn't control. Matt Nieto sent that rebound toward Rinne from close range, and Pavelski put the second rebound past him.

"He's a good goalie, one of the best in the League," Pavelski said. "If he sees it, he stops it. You have to get traffic."

Rinne made a spectacular glove save of Sharks defenseman Justin Braun's shot from the right circle with 8:35 left.

Bourque went to the box for interfering with Pavelski at 11:38, but the Predators killed the penalty.

The Sharks pulled Jones with 1:45 left. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic sent a shot from the left point off the crossbar with under 50 seconds remaining, but that was the closest the Sharks came to tying the game.

"Got a little lucky there," Rinne said.

Nashville's road trip continues Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings.

"It's big," Predators defenseman Barret Jackman said. "You want to have success on the road and that first game is usually an indication of how you're going to come out of the gates and how you're going to play the rest of the trip. When you win the first game it's great for momentum and great for a blueprint of how you have to play the entire time."

Sharks rookie forward Joonas Donskoi returned to the lineup after missing five games because of a lower-body injury and rejoined Joe Thornton and Pavelski on the top line. Fourth-line center Ben Smith, who missed five games because of a head injury, returned to the lineup.

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