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Sharks get 6 in third to beat Nashville 8-5

by John Kreiser
The San Jose Sharks have got this comeback thing down pat.

For an NHL-record third consecutive game, the Sharks won in regulation when trailing after two periods. This time, Joe Pavelski's spin-o-rama backhander with 5:20 remaining put San Jose ahead during a six-goal third period as the Sharks overcame a 4-2 deficit entering the final 20 minutes and beat the Nashville Predators 8-5 on Thursday night.

The Sharks also trailed Montreal 2-1 after 40 minutes last Thursday and won 3-2, then overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Columbus 2-1 on Saturday.

"We never feel like we're out of a game," said center Joe Thornton, who had a goal and an assist. "We've got good players who can put the puck in the net."

Pavelski got his second goal and fourth point of the period when he spun his way past Ryan Suter -- his Olympic teammate with Team USA -- and slid a backhander between the legs of Dan Ellis, setting off an eruption in the sold-out Shark Tank. The four-point period tied a franchise record.

"I was running out of space," Pavelski said. "I was as surprised as anyone when it went in."

The goal was part of a horrible night for the Predators' top defensive pair. Shea Weber was minus-5 and Suter finished minus-6.

Pavelski had put San Jose ahead for the first time when he scored his first of the night at 11:16. But J.P. Dumont got the Predators even at 5-5 when he deflected Kevin Klein's point shot past Evgeni Nabokov for his 500th NHL point.

After Pavelski's second goal, Patrick Marleau added some insurance when he zipped a high wrister from the lower left circle past replacement goaltender Pekka Rinne with 2:26 remaining. The goal was his career-high 40th of the season; he's only the third Shark to reach that mark.

It was the NHL-high 22nd comeback victory for the Sharks, who moved past Chicago into first place in the Western Conference.

Jay Leach hit the empty net with 25.2 seconds remaining for his first NHL goal.

The loss dropped the Predators into a tie with Calgary for the final two playoff spots. Both teams have 77 points, but the Preds are seventh because they have a game in hand.

"The fifth and sixth goals — those were horrendous things that happened," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We needed saves. That's the bottom line."

Through two periods, it looked like the Predators would hand the Sharks a rare home loss. Dumont broke a 2-2 tie at 11:31 of the second period with a power-play goal, and rookie Colin Wilson made it a two-goal game at 15:22. Only 30 saves by Nabokov kept the game close -- Nashville outshot San Jose 34-11 in the first 40 minutes.

"We weren't very good the first two periods," said Pavelski, who was benched at one point. "I wasn't very good either. We didn't get much to the net. Their goaltenders were struggling tonight, so once we started to get a few pucks and a few bodies to the net, they started going in."

But the Sharks came out on fire in the third period.

Dany Heatley's second goal of the game made it 4-3 at 3:40, and Manny Malhotra tied the game at 5:16 when Pavelski's pass hit his leg and deflected past Ellis. The goal was allowed after a lengthy video review.

"It looked like a kicking motion," Trotz said. "Malhotra saw the puck was behind him and he tried to corral it. It's still a kicking motion. I don't agree (with the ruling). But there's nothing you can do right now."

Despite the emptional victory, Sharks coach Todd McLellan was still upset with the way his team played through 40 minutes.

"We were clearly outworked, outplayed, outhustled for two periods and that's very disappointing," McLellan said. "The positive is that they did respond in the third, but I'm disappointed in the first two obviously."

Material from team media was used in this report
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