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Predators looking for road rebound

by Mike G. Morreale

PREDATORS (9-7-5) at SHARKS (9-6-4)


Last 10: Nashville 4-5-1; San Jose 2-5-3

Season series: The third of three regular-season meetings, with the Predators entering the series finale having won both previous games. In the most recent victory, Colin Wilson scored 2:08 into overtime and Pekka Rinne made 25 saves in a 1-0 win Feb. 12 in Nashville.

Big story: Nashville lost for the third time in four games Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks, the first game of a three-game California road trip. The Predators, who have allowed just 2.29 goals per game this season, have yielded four or more in each of their past three games. The timing couldn't be any worse, either, since Nashville plays eight of its next 10 on the road. The Sharks, 6-1-3 at home, currently are ninth in the Western Conference with 22 points, but just one behind fifth-seeded Nashville.

Team Scope:

Predators: The Predators are 6-2-2 against the Pacific Division this season, but will need a big effort coming off a disappointing 5-1 loss to the Ducks. Anaheim opened a 2-0 lead just four minutes into the game on a pair of goals in a span of 61 seconds and never looked back. Craig Smith scored the lone goal for the Predators midway through the second, but by that time the Ducks had built a 4-0 lead. Rinne had his worst start of the season, allowing five goals on 21 shots before being relieved by backup Chris Mason to open the third. Rinne entered Wednesday's game 7-0-2 with a 1.58 goals-against average in his previous nine starts against Anaheim, with both losses coming in shootouts this season.

"[The Ducks] tore us apart," Nashville coach Barry Trotz told The Tennessean. "Their big guys stepped up and led the way and they ripped us apart. We didn't step up and meet the challenge."

Sharks: While the Sharks may have picked up one point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, their offensive woes continue. The Sharks have scored more than two goals in a game only once in their previous 14 -- a 5-3 loss to Chicago on Feb. 5. Ryane Clowe, who has no goals and six assists in 17 games, returned to the lineup against the Red Wings after serving his two-game suspension for leaving the bench to start an altercation against the Blackhawks on Feb. 22. He took three shots in 14:43 of ice time on a line with Michal Handzus and Tim Kennedy. Clowe also was one of three San Jose shooters stopped by Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson in the shootout.

Who's hot: Wilson averaged a point per game in the month of February for the Predators, totaling 4 goals and 10 assists in 14 games. He leads the team with 15 points in 21 games this season. … San Jose captain Joe Thornton has a point in five straight games (one goal, four assists).

Injury report: Defenseman Hal Gill, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, is questionable for the Predators. … San Jose defenseman Brent Burns is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

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