The San Jose Sharks are off to their best start in six seasons thanks to the undefeated Vesa Toskala in goal.
Toskala looks to win his 13th straight regular-season start Thursday when the Sharks visit the Nashville Predators at Gaylord Entertainment Center in the first game between the teams since their Western Conference quarterfinal series last season.
Sharks coach Ron Wilson has been alternating goaltenders each game this season, and Toskala is expected to start Thursday after Evgeni Nabokov made a season-high 37 saves in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Detroit.
Steve Bernier scored the lone goal for San Jose (7-3-0), which was outshot 14-4 in the first period.
"We didn't work. Our forwards looked like they were auditioning for the Ice Capades," Wilson said. "A bunch of guys looked like they were just waiting for a power play."
The Sharks also opened the 1999-2000 season with a 7-3 record, but have never won eight of their first 11 games in their 15-season history.
In Toskala's last start, he stopped 23 shots and recorded his fifth career shutout in San Jose's 3-0 victory Monday over Columbus. Toskala has not lost since a 4-3 overtime defeat to Phoenix on April 1, and is 5-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .926 save percentage this season.
Toskala's 12th straight win on Monday set a new franchise record, breaking the old mark shared by Nabokov and Steve Shields.
"I feel comfortable on the ice," said Toskala, who has a 1.90 GAA during his winning streak, after Monday's win. "It always feels good after you get a couple of good saves."
San Jose eliminated Nashville in five games in the quarterfinals, winning four straight after losing 4-3 in Game 1. The Sharks won Game 2 and the series-clinching Game 5 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center as Toskala went 4-1 with a 2.01 GAA, one shutout and .927 save percentage in the series.
The Sharks have split the first two games of their season-high five-game road trip, and Toskala has been stellar away from HP Pavilion lately. He has won his last eight road starts, posting a 1.73 GAA with two shutouts in that stretch.
Toskala is 2-1 with a 2.09 GAA in four career games against the Predators (4-3-1), but he has never defeated them in the regular season at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Nashville, which has won its last five regular-season home games against San Jose, is just 1-1-1 at home this season. The Predators are coming off a 4-3 overtime home loss Saturday to Vancouver which snapped a four-game winning streak.
The Predators started slow, allowing a goal just one minute into the game while getting outshot 16-6 in the first period. They allowed the Canucks to tie the score with 1:40 left in regulation before losing in overtime.
"The young guys are going to develop," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "You have to go through the first quarter of the season and let them develop a little bit each game. We just need a lot more consistency on the back end."
Tomas Vokoun finished with a season-high 42 saves, and has been solid in net lately for Nashville. After losing his first two starts of the season while posting a 6.65 GAA, Vokoun is 3-0-1 with just a 1.46 GAA in his last four games.
Vokoun went 2-0-1 with a 1.98 GAA against the Sharks last season, and is 10-8-1 with a 2.72 GAA lifetime against them. He has been in net for the Predators last five home games against San Jose, stopping 129 of 139 shots in those games.
The Predators went 2-0-2 against the Sharks last season.