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Sharks-Predators Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Sharks lead 3-1.

TIME: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. EDT.

The San Jose Sharks hope to follow Patrick Marleau right into the Western Conference semifinals.

San Jose tries to close out its quarterfinal series with a fourth straight win over the Nashville Predators when the teams play Game 5 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Nashville won Game 1 of the series, but the Sharks have rebounded to win three in a row behind Marleau.

The 26-year-old center had a hat trick, including the go-ahead goal, to lead San Jose to a 5-4 victory on Thursday. The Sharks' captain has six goals and one assist in the last three games, accounting for 50 percent of the team's scoring.

Marleau, who had a career-best 86 points during the regular season, is San Jose's franchise leader in postseason goals and notched his third career playoff hat trick Thursday.

"He's our captain, and it just goes to show that he's been doing it and we've been following him all season long," said Mark Smith, who scored his third goal of the series Thursday. "The bigger the game, the bigger he is as a player."

San Jose needed to hold off a late Nashville charge after Mike Sillinger and Scott Hartnell scored to pull the Predators within a goal in the third period.

Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala made 26 saves, however, and held on as Nashville outshot San Jose 14-3 in the final 20 minutes. Rookie Pat Rissmiller also scored for San Jose while Joe Thornton, Steve Bernier and Matt Carle each added two assists.

San Jose has won all four playoff series in which it's held a 3-1 lead, but coach Ron Wilson said recording that last victory won't be easy.

"You get to this point and you want to get the series over as quickly as possible in order to save energy," said Wilson, who gave his team Friday off. "We all understand that the hardest win is the fourth win. We're going to have our work cut out for us."

The Predators certainly have their work ahead of them as they try to win their first playoff series, but Thursday's third-period performance has them motivated.

"I thought that we played regular season hockey to that point," said Predators goalie Chris Mason, who made 19 saves in the defeat. "They've been playing playoff hockey, and we said, `You know what? We've got nothing to lose."'

Paul Kariya added a goal and an assist and Shea Weber also scored for Nashville, which scored just one goal in Games 2 and 3.

The Predators scored their first three even-strength goals of the series Thursday, but continued to give San Jose odd-man chances. The Sharks have had six 5-on-3s in the first four games, and took advantage by scoring two power-play goals in Game 4.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky returned to the Nashville lineup Thursday after missing 15 games with a separated shoulder.

Game 6, if necessary, will be in San Jose on Tuesday.

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

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Marleau, 6 goals and 7 points; Christian Ehrhoff and Tom Preissing, 5 assists; Ville Nieminen, 20 PIM. Predators - Sillinger and Weber, 2 goals; Kariya, 5 assists and 6 points; Sillinger, 12 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 21.9 percent (7 for 32). Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (22 for 27). Predators - Power play: 18.5 percent (5 for 27). Penalty killing: 78.1 percent (25 for 32).

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Toskala (3-1, 1 SO, 2.27 GAA); Evgeni Nabokov (no appearances). Predators - Mason (1-3, 3.80); Pekka Rinne (no appearances).

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