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Predators hang on for 4-3 win over Sharks

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
The Nashville Predators were not about to let history repeat itself.

One week after they outplayed the Sharks in San Jose only to lose on a last-minute goal, the Predators built a three-goal lead and held on for a 4-3 victory Tuesday night at the Sommet Center. Joel Ward and David Legwand each had a goal and two assists as Nashville won its third in a row and seventh in their last nine.

The 4-3 loss at San Jose was definitely on their minds.

''We kind of came up short there," Ward said. ''We were really disappointed there. ... A little bit of revenge I guess you could say. We were kind of hungry to play tonight and try to get two points off them."

Jerrod Smithson had a goal and Ryan Suter had two assists as the Predators beat backup goaltender Tomas Greiss, who was playing only his fourth game of the season.

The Predators scored two power-play goals against the NHL's top penalty-killing team. Steve Sullivan scored during a 5-on-3 advantage in the first period and Ward connected with the Preds skating 5-on-4.

San Jose got goals from Scott Nichol, Joe Thornton and a last-minute tally by Patrick Marleau that made the Predators and their fans sweat a bit. But the Sharks lost in regulation for the first time since Oct. 22 at Tampa Bay. They had been 9-0-3 since then, including 1-0-1 on a three-games-in-four-nights swing through the Midwest.

''Mentally you know when you're on the back end of a road trip, and your legs don't give you everything you want,'' Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. ''Mentally you better be sharp, and we weren't that one bit.''

The Predators outshot San Jose 14-9 in the first period, and Sullivan put them ahead at 13:19 when he scored his fifth of the season 28 seconds into a two-man advantage.

''You give them time, and they're going to pick you apart,'' Nichol said of his former teammates.

Nichol tied it when he scored his first of the season shorthanded to tie the game 1-1 at 14:23. But Smithson's wrister past Greiss with 3:54 left in the first put Nashville ahead to stay.

The Predators added to their the lead with two more in the second. Ward tipped in Suter's power-play shot from the blue line at 8:16, and Ward passed from the boards to Legwand who beat Greiss with a one-timer from the left circle at 10:57 to make it 4-1.

Weary or not, the Sharks didn't quit. Thornton came off the bench and scored his sixth this season from the left circle with 41 seconds left in the middle period, and Marleau tipped in a pass from Thornton with 51 seconds left in regulation.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz wasn't happy with the clock operator essentially giving the Sharks two free timeouts within the final minute. The clock reset to 0.0 after Marleau's goal and again after an icing with 3 seconds left.

''That's five guys that can do damage on any given night. We have to get it corrected with our off-ice officials, but it's absolutely unacceptable for a home team,'' Trotz said.

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who made 29 saves to improve to 7-4-0, called the win a good confidence boost with powerful New Jersey coming in on Thursday night.

''We know we can play against anybody in this League,'' he said.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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