SAN JOSE – James Neal’s second period goal gave the Predators their first lead of the afternoon, and they held on in a tight-checking game at SAP Center on Saturday against the Sharks, 3-1.
The Sharks had some good chances early in the second to take the lead with the score tied 1-1, but Melker Karlsson missed the net on a wrister from the slot in the first minute, and Jannik Hansen couldn’t corral a Joe Pavelski feed on a rush shortly after that.
Nashville outskated the Sharks the rest of the frame, taking its first lead at 10:08 on Neal’s goal. Colin Wilson stripped Dylan DeMelo deep in the Sharks’ defensive zone before setting up Neal for his 19th score.
San Jose’s power play had an opportunity to tie it after Neal went off on a slashing minor at 17:30 of the third period, but instead it was Viktor Arvidsson tapping in a P.K. Subban clear after Martin Jones was pulled to make it a six-on-four.
The Sharks lost in regulation for just the second time in the last 11 games (7-2-3). They are 1-1 on their season-long six-game homestand.
Capping off a three-game California swing, Nashville snapped a four-game losing streak (1-2-2) and remains in third place in the Central Division.
The Sharks got on the board first on Paul Martin’s fourth goal. Joe Thornton pulled an offensive zone draw back to the point, and Martin’s shot skidded inside the far post with Hansen setting a screen on Juuse Saros at 6:18.
Nashville tied it about six minutes later, when a floater from Roman Josi deflected off of Justin Braun’s shin to Ryan Johansen, who whizzed in a wrist shot from close range through Jones at 12:10.
The Sharks and Predators entered the game as the two highest-scoring teams in the league by their defensemen. Martin’s goal was the Sharks’ 44th from the blue line, while Nashville has a combined 38.
The Sharks are 6-8-3 in their last 17 regular season meetings with Nashville, although they won the previous meeting on Oct. 29 at home, 4-1. The teams face off for the third and final time in exactly two weeks at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators had given up six power play goals in just 11 chances during their four-game skid, but shut down San Jose’s four tries, after the Sharks had scored twice with a man advantage on Thursday against Washington.
San Jose is 7-for-7 on the PK in its last two games, after allowing one power play goal-against in its previous four before that.
Jones started for the third time in the last five games, and figures to get Sunday off against Dallas in the second of a back-to-back. He made 22 saves.
Saros, a 21-year-old fourth round draft pick in 2013, was making his first career start against the Sharks. It was his third start in the last eight games, and he improved to 8-6-3 on the season with 25 saves.
Nashville trade deadline acquisition P.A. Parenteau made his debut after he was acquired on March 1 from New Jersey. He had been dealing with a finger injury. Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who had missed two of the last three with a lower body injury, also played.
Defenseman David Schlemko missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury.
Three of the Sharks’ final 15 games of the regular season will be against the Stars, including Sunday night in the second half of a rare back-to-back at home. The Sharks visit Dallas twice on the same road trip later this month, on March 20 and 24.