The Nashville Predators' go-ahead goal midway through the third period might have been just the wakeup call the San Jose Sharks needed.
Patric Hornqvist's goal 9:29 into the third period put Nashville ahead 3-2, but Dan Boyle set up Devin Setoguchi's tying goal late in the third period before scoring the game-winner with 60 seconds remaining to give the surging Sharks a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.
"We didn't play the game we wanted to play," said Setoguchi, who hadn't played since Oct. 24 due to a leg injury. "They scored that goal, and maybe that's what we needed to wake us up."
The Sharks won it when Boyle skated into the Nashville zone and worked his way to the right circle before taking a soft 15-footer that somehow slipped through the pads of goaltender Dan Ellis.
"I just shot the puck at the net," Boyle said. "I wasn't trying to score, but sometimes you get lucky."
San Jose improved to 8-0-1 in its last nine games and is 6-0-1 at HP Pavilion. With a 13-4-2 record and 28 points, the Sharks own the best record in the NHL -- just as they did last season, when they won the Presidents' Trophy.
"We've done a lot of good things lately as a team -- little things that maybe go unrecognized, like blocking shots, winning faceoffs, the grunt work along the boards, playing committed defensive hockey," coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought we let that get away from us a little bit tonight.
"The truly great teams, they don't do that. We still have to find a way to keep plugging away and get that out of our game so that maybe when we don't feel as good physically, we can still play a solid 60 minutes and give ourselves a chance to win."
San Jose rookie Thomas Greiss gave starterEvgeni Nabokov a rare night off and earned his second NHL victory with 23 saves.
"In the first period, he gave us an opportunity to be in the game," McLellan said. "As the game went on, had had to make some big saves down the stretch."
It was a tough loss for the Predators, who frustrated the Sharks for most of the night and still went home empty-handed.
"We're not happy with the results at all," forward Steve Sullivan said. "We deserved better. We played better. They've got a good hockey club over there, and we think we carried the play for most of the 60 minutes."
The teams took turns trading goals, beginning midway through the first period.
Joe Pavelski put the Sharks in front 10:01 into the game, finishing off a perfect backhand pass fromPatrick Marleau by beating Ellis with a quick one-timer from the lower left circle. The lead lasted only until 18:20, when rookie Michael Santorelli got his stick on a loose puck and nudged in into the net for his second of the season.
The Sharks went back in front 2:33 into the second period when Jamie McGinn was in the right place at the right time. The rookie forward picked up a deflected pass in the right circle and lifted a quick 10-footer past Ellis. But the Predators got even at 14:49 when ex-Shark Marcel Goc beat Greiss with a wrist shot from the lower left circle.
Hornqvist's tip-in of Dan Hamhuis' shot gave Nashville its first lead. But the Sharks got even less than four minutes later when Boyle carried into the Predators' zone before dishing to Setoguchi, who hammered a slap shot past Ellis from the top of the left circle at 13:26.
Greiss preserved the tie with 2:59 remaining when he robbed Hornqvist, who was wide-open in front of the net.
"A team like that finds ways to win," Sullivan said. "We thought we were the better team. We deserved better."