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Predators seek to avenge earlier loss to Sharks

by Brian Hunter
PREDATORS (6-4-2) at SHARKS (7-4-0)


Last 10:
Nashville 4-4-2; San Jose 6-4-0

Season Series:
Second of four meetings. The Predators will be looking to pay back the Sharks for the 3-1 win San Jose claimed in Nashville on Oct. 25 behind a pair of third-period goals by Joe Pavelski. Logan Couture opened the scoring for the Sharks with a shorthanded goal, while Craig Smith answered for the Predators on the power play.

Big Story: Nashville suffered through an uneven opening month, but November is off to a flying start. The Predators agreed Thursday to a seven-year contract extension with franchise goalie Pekka Rinne, who then lived up to that tag by shutting out the Coyotes later that night. Oh, and it also happened to be Rinne's 29th birthday.

"Birthday boy, obviously, shutout and $49 million -- I'd call that a goalie hat trick," coach Barry Trotz said.

Team Scope:

Saturday's stop in San Jose marks the halfway point of a five-game road trip on which Nashville is 1-0-1 to this point. With Rinne flashing the form that made him a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, Jonathon Blum's goal midway through the second period in Phoenix would be all the Predators needed. They got insurance, though, as Matt Halischuk scored later in the second and Patric Hornqvist added an empty-netter in the final minute of the third. Rinne finished with 35 saves.

"I'm not going to say it's just two points," Rinne said. "It has a different meaning to me. Signing the contract, playing the same day and it's my birthday. It's a pretty special day."

Sharks: It's time for a little home cooking for San Jose, which began a run of six in a row at the Shark Tank with a thrilling 4-3 shootout win over Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Sharks trailed 3-1 heading into the third period, but Ryane Clowe and Jamie McGinn scored to force overtime. Five minutes of 4-on-4 play didn't settle anything, but in the penalty-shot tiebreaker Clowe struck again while Thomas Greiss -- who stopped 29 of 30 shots after Antti Niemi allowed two goals in the first 2:04 of the game -- denied all three attempts by the Penguins.

"We had no business winning that game after the first period. But we found a way to get back into it," coach Todd McLellan said. "It's two points, but we'll be discussing our starts. There's no doubt about that."

Who's Hot:
Hornqvist has 5 goals in the Predators' last four games after failing to register a point in their first seven. … Patrick Marleau has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last six games for the Sharks.

Injury Report: Nashville forward Nick Spaling (lower body) made the trip with the team but remains on injured reserve. … San Jose goalies Antero Niittymaki (hip) and Alex Stalock (knee) and forward Frazer McLaren (hip) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
Rinne led NHL goalies heading into Friday's action in games (12), minutes (685) shutouts (3), shots against (368) and saves (342). … Greiss has a 1.99 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in four starts plus Thursday's relief outing.

Puck Drop:
Rinne has already set a Nashville franchise record by starting the first dozen games of the season, and he's played all but the 40 minutes Anders Lindback got in a relief appearance on Oct. 20 in Vancouver. At some point he'll need to take a breather, but that doesn't seem likely to happen any sooner than next week when the Predators play on back-to-back nights in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

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