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West-leading Sharks pay visit to Predators

by Mike G. Morreale
SHARKS (37-11-9) at PREDATORS (31-21-4)

Last 10 -- San Jose 7-1-2; Nashville 4-5-1

Season series --
This is the third of four meetings of the season between the teams. Joel Ward and David Legwand each had a goal and two assists to lead the Predators to a 4-3 victory on Nov. 17 in Nashville. The first meeting of the season on Nov. 10 saw San Jose rally for a 4-3 win as Devin Setoguchi notched the tying goal with 6:34 remaining and Dan Boyle netted the winner with a minute left in regulation. The series finale takes place March 11 at the Shark Tank.

Big Story -- The Sharks are in the midst of their second of three six-game road trips this season. The club scored a 4-2 victory over St. Louis on Thursday and, following its visit to Nashville, will travel to Toronto, Columbus, Detroit and Buffalo. The Sharks are tops in the Western Conference with 83 points.

Team Scope:

Sharks -- Patrick Marleau scored his 38th goal of the season, already matching his career high from last season, in a 4-2 victory over the Blues on Thursday. Backup goalie Thomas Greiss, making his first start since Jan. 16, stopped 35 shots to earn his sixth victory of the season.

Predators -- The club endured the longest shootout in its history on Tuesday, going 10 rounds with Phoenix before dropping a 1-0 decision to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Adrian Aucoin finished it off when he lifted a wrist shot over the glove of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in the 10th round. The Predators rebounded with a 5-3 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday -- receiving a pair of power-play goals and an assist from Patric Hornqvist.

Who's Hot -- Marleau has produced 7 goals and 13 points in the last nine games.

Injury Report --
Nashville is without forward Wade Belak (foot) and defenseman Cody Franson (rib). … The Sharks will be without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) and Boyle is listed as questionable after missing the last five games with an upper body injury.

Stat Pack --
Sharks center Joe Thornton, who leads the team with 56 assists and 71 points, has not missed a game while in San Jose. He's played a franchise-record 361 consecutive games with the Sharks and 380 NHL games overall dating back to Oct. 20, 2005 with the Boston Bruins.

Puck Drop -- Even before the injuries to Boyle and Vlasic, rumors were rampant that the Sharks were in the market for another defenseman. One report had Niclas Wallin of the Carolina Hurricanes as a potential target. Wallin would have to waive his no-trade clause, however.

"You're seeing certain teams try to bring trades prior to the (February) 12th," Sharks GM Doug Wilson told reporters. "That's what sellers do because they get money off during that time frame."

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