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Sharks-Predators Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Sharks (44-27-11) at Predators (49-25-8).

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Game 2. Predators lead series 1-0.

TIME: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Nashville Predators left wing Paul Kariya ended the regular season with his best offensive game of the season. He matched that point total in Friday's playoff opener.

Kariya and the Predators look to take a 2-0 series lead over the San Jose Sharks when the teams meet again at Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Kariya assisted on all four of Nashville's goals in its 4-3 victory over the Sharks on Friday in Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference series.

"It's a good start for us," said Kariya, whose four assists tied a career high and set personal playoff bests for assists and points.

Kariya also had a four-point game in the regular-season finale on Tuesday, as he had an assist with his first hat trick since Oct. 31, 2002. The 11-year veteran, who had not recorded four points in a game since Jan. 22, 2003 prior to Tuesday, now has consecutive four-point efforts for the first time in his career.

"Anytime your best player gets on the scoreboard, you usually do win," Predators center Mike Sillinger said.

Adam Hall scored the go-ahead goal at 12:06 of the third period, and all four of Nashville's goals came via the power play. The Predators scored on all three of their power-play opportunities in the first period, and finished the game 4-for-7 with the man advantage.

"There's no question the power play has been an impactful part of our game all year, and tonight it showed it's worth," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

The Nashville goaltending situation had been in question with Tomas Vokoun sidelined due to a blood condition, but Chris Mason made 31 saves in his playoff debut and has won seven straight games.

"It hasn't quite really sunk in. But right now it feels good, and I'm trying to relax and catch my breath and take it in. We still have a lot of work to do, but getting the first definitely is awesome," Mason said.

Forward Steve Sullivan returned to the ice for 13 minutes in Game 1 after missing the previous nine games with a groin injury. Sullivan had five goals and 13 assists in his last 12 regular season games before being sidelined.

"He's just got to work his way back in and he's a dangerous player for us. He'll have a big impact as the series goes on," Trotz said.

The Predators had the NHL's best home record during the regular season and have now won 12 of their last 14 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Nashville is 3-1 all-time in postseason home games.

Nashville limited one of the league's most dangerous tandems in Game 1, as Jonathan Cheechoo was held without a point and Joe Thornton had one goal. Cheechoo led the NHL with 56 goals and Thornton had a league-high 125 points during the regular season.

The Sharks allowed four power-play goals for just the second time all season. They outscored the Predators 2-0 when playing five-on-five.

"We've got to do a better job penalty killing," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "We need to stay out of the box."

The Sharks are in the playoffs for the second straight season, and have advanced to postseason play nine times in their 14-year history. They are 2-5 all-time in Game 2 following a Game 1 loss, and have won the series just once in seven opportunities after losing Game 1.

Games 3 and 4 will be in San Jose on Tuesday and Thursday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sharks - 99 points; 5th seed. Predators - 106 points; 4th seed.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Nils Ekman, Mark Smith and Thornton, 1 goal; six players tied with one assist; Thornton, 2 points; Ville Nieminen, 6 PIM. Predators - four players tied with one goal; Kariya 4 assists and points; Brendan Witt, 4 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 16.7 percent (1 for 6). Penalty killing: 42.9 percent (3 for 7). Predators - Power play: 57.1 percent (4 for 7). Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (5 for 6).

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Vesa Toskala (0-1, 0 SO, 4.07 GAA); Evgeni Nabokov (NR). Predators - Mason (1-0, 0, 3.00); Pekka Rinne (NR)

LAST MEETING: Friday; Predators, 4-3. At Nashville, Tenn., Kariya had 4 assists as the Predators scored four power-play goals.

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