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Preview: Sharks at Predators

San Jose tries to hang on to Pacific Division lead; Nashville needs win to boost playoff position

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

SHARKS (42-25-7) at PREDATORS (37-25-11)

8 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, FS-TN, NHL.TV

 

Sharks team scope

The San Jose Sharks have lost five in a row and are even in points with the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division. San Jose and Anaheim each have 91 points, two more than the Edmonton Oilers, but the Sharks hold the tiebreaker against the Ducks because they have more regulation/overtime wins. The Sharks lost 6-1 at the Dallas Stars on Friday and have scored two or fewer goals in each of the five losses. "It's not ideal by any means," defenseman Brenden Dillon said after the game. "I think it's maybe a bit of a wakeup call for us that this time of year it doesn't matter if you're fighting for a job for next year or fighting for [Stanley Cup Playoff] position or whatever it might be." The Sharks are 19-15-3 on the road. Joe Thornton has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his past nine games and is two points away from tying Brett Hull (1,391) for 22nd place on the NHL all-time list.

 

Predators team scope

The Nashville Predators trail the Calgary Flames by one point for the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Central Division. The Blues hold the tiebreaker because they have four more regulation/overtime wins. The Predators are 5-1-0 in their past six games and have won six of their past seven at home. They expect a big challenge against the Sharks. "They're going to be ready to play," forward Filip Forsberg said. "Coming off of a five-game losing streak is never fun. They're fighting for the No. 1 spot on their side, and Anaheim is catching up to them so it's going to be a team that's ready to play. We've got to be ready for that for sure." Captain Mike Fisher missed a 3-1 win against the Flames on Thursday with a lower-body injury and is not expected to play. Forsberg is fifth in the NHL with 66 takeaways. He has worked on his defensive game since coming into the League and is seeing results. "When I came here, I was basically purely offense," Forsberg said. "Since then, I've just tried to elevate my game in every aspect, especially in the defensive zone. You look at the League right now, you have to be able to play a 200-foot game to be able to be out there, and I think that's something that I've been trying to work a lot on."

 

Sharks projected lineup

Tomas Hertl -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau -- Logan Couture -- Joonas Donskoi

Jannik Hansen -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Micheal Haley -- Joel Ward -- Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Timo Meier

Injured: Melker Karlsson (lower body)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Colin Wilson -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, PA Parenteau, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Mike Fisher (lower body), Miikka Salomaki (lower body)

 

Status report

The Sharks did not hold a morning skate. … Fisher did not participate in Nashville's morning skate. Sissons filled his spot on the third line against the Flames.

 

Who's hot

Couture has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past nine games. … Ellis has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past three games.

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