SAN JOSE – A pair of goals in quick succession in the second period gave the Sharks a commanding lead they would not renounce, as they downed the Predators at SAP Center on Saturday night, 4-1.
San Jose swept its three-game homestand, and is a perfect 4-0 in its own building this season.
A series of events early in the middle frame helped stake the Sharks a 3-0 lead.
The Sharks were up 1-0 when Nashville’s Craig Smith had a breakaway attempt less than two minutes into the second, when Melker Karlsson inadvertently left the speedy Predators forward all alone. Martin Jones bailed out his teammate, though, denying Smith’s attempt to preserve the slim advantage.
About a minute later Yannick Weber was called for cross-checking, giving San Jose a power play. It took just six seconds for Joe Pavelski to swipe in a Brent Burns rebound off of the back boards, banking it off of a fallen Pekka Rinne at 2:47.
On the next shift, the Sharks’ fourth line found the scoresheet. David Schlemko’s shot hit Micheal Haley and bounded to the slot, where Tommy Wingels backhanded it inside the far post at 3:04.
Nashville didn’t relent, though. On its first and only power play, Mike Fisher hit the far post with five-and-a-half minutes left in the second, while Ryan Johansen rang a shot off the crossbar with 50 seconds to go before the break.
Finally, the Predators solved Jones at 19:18, when James Neal tipped a Ryan Ellis blast, cutting the Sharks’ lead to 3-1 after two.
Nashville continued to pressure in the third period, but couldn’t get any closer. Jones stopped Smith again at the side of the net with about 11:20 to go, and Burns made a spectacular shot block on Colton Sissons with seven minutes remaining, diving in front of the blast and deflecting the puck into the safety netting with his skate.
Joe Thornton got credit for his first goal when he was tripped by Filip Forsberg while staring at an empty net with 1:19 to go.
By winning their first four games at SAP Center, the Sharks equaled their longest home winning streak of last season. The Predators, who traded captain Shea Weber to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the offseason, have lost six of their last seven (1-5-1).
Joonas Donskoi got his second goal in as many games to open the scoring. A mad scramble ensued when Rinne inadvertently came charging out of his net to play a loose puck, but the goalie eventually got back to the crease after Donskoi and Joel Ward couldn’t find room to shoot into the open net around Nashville defenders. San Jose still got one, though, when Donskoi whacked in a loose puck in the blue paint through Rinne at 15:28.
The teams were meeting for the first time since the Sharks eliminated the Predators in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven games last May.
The Sharks improved to 5-2-2 against Nashville in the last nine regular season meetings in San Jose.
The Sharks got a power play goal for the third straight game, finishing 1-for-2. They are 4-for-9 in their last their last three games.
The Preds had just one advantage and did not convert. San Jose is an impressive 19-for-20 on the PK over their last six games.
Jones made his fifth straight start, and has played in all but one of the Sharks’ first nine games. He’s now 5-3 on the season after making 27 stops, and beat the Predators in the regular season for the first time in his career (1-2-2).
Rinne looked unsteady for most of the night, seemingly having trouble with the puck every time he left the crease. He dropped to 10-6-4 in his career against San Jose, allowing three goals on 26 shots.
Ward left the game in the third period after taking a high hit from Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro, but returned before the conclusion.
Among the players that dressed for Nashville was former Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin. He got the call over another former Shark, Matt Carle.
The Sharks visit Arizona for the first of five meetings on Tuesday, and return home to host the Flames on Thursday and Penguins on Saturday, Nov. 5.