SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks weren't at their best, but they were good enough to withstand a desperate effort by the Nashville Predators for a 3-2 victory Sunday at SAP Center in Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series.
San Jose leads the best-of-7 series 2-0. Game 3 is Tuesday at Nashville (9 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports).
Joe Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:40 left in the third period, Logan Couture scored a power-play goal in the second period, and Martin Jones made 37 saves for the Sharks. Joe Thornton had an empty-net goal with 55.6 seconds remaining.
But Pavelski knows the Sharks still have a lot of work left.
"It's good knowing that we have that [lead in the series], but that doesn't guarantee anything," Pavelski said. "Coming into these playoffs there was a lot of talk about our home record. We've come out, we've played hard, the fans have been great, a lot of energy in the building. It's good to see some wins.
"We understand this series is only to get tougher. These guys are going to go home. They've been on the road a little bit. We have to pick up our desperation a little bit and play a better game than we did today."
Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Pavelski slips rebound past Rinne
Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored with 7:04 remaining in the third period to tie the game 1-1, and Ryan Johansen scored with 3.6 seconds left and goaltender Pekka Rinne off the ice for an extra attacker.
Nashville outshot the Sharks 39-25 and outhit them 46-26.
"I think we were the better team out there tonight," Ekholm said. "Especially in the second, late in the first and in the third. We were just as good as they were tonight. They got a lucky bounce in the end and scored. ... We should be encouraged by the way we played tonight.
"There are two games at home for us now. Bottom line is we just need to score a few goals. You aren't going to win hockey games by scoring one goal or two goals."
Pavelski's goal, his sixth of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead. He knocked a rebound past Rinne, who couldn't control the puck after stopping Matt Nieto's shot from the left circle. Nieto and Thornton got the assists.
Video: NSH@SJS, GM2: Couture bangs home rebound in front
"Big goal by [Pavelski] there," Couture said. "They had momentum. There were taking it to us in that third period. They went out there and [Nieto] made a great play, and Pavelski was able to bury it. He's done that all season, and Jones shut the door."
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead at 18:36 of the second period when Couture scored a power-play goal on San Jose's 16th shot of the game. Rinne stopped Pavelski's deflection of Brent Burns' shot from the point but couldn't control the rebound, and Couture scored from close range.
"I thought they were better than us for the majority of that game," Couture said. "Like I said, a lot of guys didn't bring their best effort tonight, and we got bailed out by Jones making some big saves. We spent too much time in our end. We made mistakes that we really haven't been making throughout the playoffs so far. Trying to get fancy through the neutral zone, turning pucks over, not being strong enough in our own end. We weren't our best, but we found a way. Jones was a big part of it."
The Sharks scored 33 seconds after Nashville was penalized for having too many men on the ice. Defenseman Roman Josi, trying to prevent the penalty, came off the ice and over the boards onto San Jose's bench, to no avail. The goal was Couture's fourth of the playoffs and San Jose's eighth with the extra man. The Sharks went 2-for-3 on the power play in their 5-2 victory against Nashville in Game 1.
Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Ekholm beats Jones from distance
The Predators went 0-for-3 on the power play Sunday and are 2-for-31 in the playoffs.
"I thought we played a good 5-on-5 game," Josi said. "It doesn't matter who's up 2-0 or down 2-0. One team has to get to four wins, so the season is far from over.
"We had a couple of good looks in the third. We just have to start finding the net. They didn't have that many chances. We have to stay out of the box. They are so dangerous on the power play."
Nashville pulled even on Ekholm's goal. He beat Jones with a straightaway wrist shot from a few feet inside the blue line that went through traffic and caught the upper right corner.
Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Johansen slips one by Jones late
Nashville forward Craig Smith returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 with a lower-body injury. Smith, who usually plays on the second line, missed most of Game 2 and all of Games 3 and 4 in the Predators' first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Before Sunday, the Predators were 4-0 with Smith in the lineup for a full game and 0-4 without him.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he wasn't concerned with the lack of style points in San Jose's victory.
"We won, and I think in the playoffs you've got to win all kinds of different ways," DeBoer said. "I really liked our first period. I thought their desperation level was just a little higher than ours in the second and in the third. And I think that's what you saw, and rightfully so.
"You got a team that's facing going down two games. No one wants to lose the first two games of a series. We knew their desperation level was going to be high. We found a way to weather it."
Video: Pavelski, Jones lead Sharks to take 2-0 series lead