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San Jose looks to extend point streak in Nashville

by Brian Hunter /

SHARKS (14-4-4) at PREDATORS (9-8-1)

Last 10 -- San Jose 7-0-3; Nashville 7-3-0

Season series -- These teams meet for the second consecutive Tuesday night. San Jose rallied at the Shark Tank last week for a 4-3 win as Devin Setoguchi notched the tying goal with 6:34 remaining and Dan Boyle netted the winner with a minute left in regulation. Two more games remain in the season series to be played during the 2010 portion of the schedule.

Big story --
San Jose has picked up at least one point in 12 consecutive games (9-0-3) and has four more points than any other NHL team, but don't lose sight of what Nashville has accomplished of late. The Predators have climbed out of the Central Division cellar with seven wins in their last 10 games and they're getting consistent goaltending out of Pekka Rinne.

Team scope:

Sharks -- The venue could be Madison Square Garden in New York or HP Pavilion in San Jose. The opponent could be defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh or last-place Carolina. It hasn't mattered to the Sharks, who have treated all of their opponents with similar disdain during this ongoing points streak.

"We go into each night saying we want these two points regardless of the opponent, whether it's a division or conference opponent or whether it's an east coast team," forward Manny Malhotra said. We want points out of whoever it is. We don't look at the standings."

Predators -- Offense has been an issue at times over the past couple seasons for Nashville, which ranks ahead of only Carolina in goals per game, but it was hard to complain about the effort in a 2-0 win over Montreal on Friday. The Predators set a franchise record by unloading 55 shots on Canadiens goalie Carey Price, and two of them went in off the stick of Steve Sullivan. Rinne, meanwhile, stopped all 20 shots he faced.

"The guys on defense did a great job, I didn't have to face too many shots," Rinne said. "Obviously you have your good saves and your moments, but it was one of the easier games that we have had this year so far."

Who's hot -- Dany Heatley has goals in three straight games for the Sharks and a five-game points streak (four goals, one assist). Rinne is 6-1-0 in his last seven appearances for the Predators, including two shutouts and a relief outing against the Wild in which he stopped all 12 shots he faced and salvaged a victory.

Injury report -- San Jose's Jody Shelley hasn't played since Nov. 7 due to general soreness. Wade Belak missed Nashville's last game with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack -- Evgeni Nabokov, who got a rare night off the last time these teams met, has a 6-1-1 record in his last eight starts against the Predators with a 2.01 goals-against average.

Puck drop --
Anyone looking for a chink in the Sharks' armor can point to the fact they've let a couple points slip away in the last three games. Dallas rallied for a 3-2 shootout win in San Jose last Thursday and Chicago came back from a 3-1 deficit on Monday to record a 4-3 overtime victory.

"You've got to bear down, hold on to those games," center Joe Pavelski said. "It is the second time in three games and maybe it's an issue, but I don't think so. We're pretty resilient."

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