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Predators 5, Sharks 0

NHL.com @NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Nashville Predators gave a glimpse Wednesday night of what they can do when they don't hurt themselves.

Shea Weber scored two goals and Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 shots as the Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 5-0. The victory moved them back on top of the NHL standings with 81 points, one ahead of idle Buffalo.

Nashville came in having lost four of six games, the result of too many penalties and sloppy play. That had allowed Detroit to pull within a point of the Predators in the Central Division and the Western Conference, a margin the Red Wings maintained with a 3-1 victory in Dallas.

"The past few games, we didn't play the way we wanted to, and we slacked off a little bit," forward J.P. Dumont said.

"Other teams caught us, and that game was good for not just for everybody, but just for ourselves to show how good we are. If we don't play a solid game, it's not going to be easy. It was proved tonight ... we wanted more, and we just kept playing."

Vokoun, who has started six of seven, posted his fourth shutout this season and 20th of his career. He and Chris Mason have combined for 10 this season.

"We played from the first minute to the last minute, how we are supposed to play," Vokoun said.

Martin Erat had a goal and an assist, Dumont and David Legwand also had a goal apiece.

The Predators bounced back from a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles last Saturday that snapped an eight-game, home-winning streak, and they did it by chasing Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala midway through the first period.

Evgeni Nabokov replaced Toskala but couldn't do much better. San Jose, which beat St. Louis 6-5 on Tuesday night, missed a chance to pass Anaheim for the lead in the Pacific Division. San Jose coach Ron Wilson said the Sharks were victimized by the schedule and the weather.

"I didn't like some of the shots last night, and I didn't like the two goals again tonight," Wilson said of pulling Toskala even though Nabokov has been nursing a groin injury. "And I don't care if they are exact shots. In a game like this, you're going to need saves."

Nashville had only three penalties against San Jose after having to kill at least seven in each of the three previous games - two of which were losses.

"We knew we had to come out with a lot of pace and a lot of discipline, and we did," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

The home team has won 11 straight in this series. The Predators have beaten San Jose, the team that ousted them in the opening round of the playoffs last season, two of three games this season.

Maybe the Sharks were tired in the third of an eight-game road trip that is their longest of the season. Nashville outshot them and controlled most of the first 30 minutes, and the Sharks didn't get a chance to put the league's best power play unit to work until 10:41 of the second.

They had recalled forward Mathieu Darche from Worcester of the AHL but had to scratch him. That limited the Sharks to three lines.

"Obviously, they started quick," San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. "We just never got our legs underneath us."

San Jose gave Nashville five power plays. Nabokov stopped the Predators from scoring with the man advantage, but he gave up three goals on 12 shots in the third period.

The Predators already had what they needed after scoring twice on their first four shots.

Dumont started the scoring when he chased down the puck off a faceoff and beat Toskala on a slap shot from the left circle at 6:22 when the goalie had come out of the crease. Weber scored his ninth of the season on a shot from near the blue line at 10:02.

Erat scored 73 seconds into the third, flipping a backhander as he skated across the slot past Nabokov's right leg. Weber, who had missed three games with a sore jaw, padded the lead with his second at 6:27.

Legwand sealed the victory by redirecting Erat's shot at 12:29 for his career-high 20th goal this season.

Notes: Dumont's goal was his 300th NHL point. ... The Predators improved to 30-7-1 when scoring first and 22-5-1 when leading after the opening period. ... San Jose C Mark Smith missed his fifth straight game with a groin injury. ... Nashville leads the series with San Jose 14-13-4. The Sharks have not won in Nashville in the regular season since Oct. 24, 2004, a span of seven games. ... Legwand tied his career high of 48 points.

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