Nashville Predators

Evander Kane's return a bright spot for Sharks in loss to Predators

Evander Kane's return a bright spot for Sharks in loss to Predators

SAN JOSE — There was high energy inside SAP Center on Saturday night when the Sharks took on the Predators in a hard-fought, playoff-like game.

But the crowd was at its loudest and most engaged when Evander Kane was the first skater mentioned during starting lineup introductions.

“It was a nice gesture from them,” the Sharks winger said after the game. “Definitely really appreciate it. Got me going for that first shift there. It was a nice gesture, and I appreciate it. We have a great group of fans here.”

Saturday marked Kane’s first game since Feb. 26, as he missed time because of injury and a family tragedy. But there was no denying that, despite San Jose falling to Nashville 4-2 in its regular-season series finale, having Kane back on the ice was a bright spot.

“He did a good job, considering what he’s been through,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “The fact he even got out here today I think was very impressive.”

Kane admitted he felt a bit rusty when he took the ice to start the game, but he was able to pick it up as the contest went on.

“First 10 minutes were – just getting my legs back, getting my wind back,” Kane said. “Then I felt fine, took a regular shift. Felt good in that regard.”

DeBoer agreed.

“The fact that he played 20 minutes and played hard and did what he did," DeBoer said. "He gave us everything he had.”

Kane was reunited on a line with Tomas Hertl, and after getting back into a groove, the duo returned to being one of the most dominant lines on the ice – even though they didn’t get on the scoresheet.

“I thought we created some opportunities but weren’t able to find the back of the net,” Kane said.

That line will have plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net in the near future, though. San Jose concludes its current three-game homestand with a showdown against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night. That game is sure to be hard-hitting, and the Sharks have a better chance of winning now that they have Kane back in the lineup.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-2 home loss to pesky Predators

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-2 home loss to pesky Predators

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Peter DeBoer told the media you can never predict what will happen when his Sharks face the Nashville Predators.

That certainly was the case when the teams went head-to-head for their third and final regular-season meeting Saturday night.

A tight-checking contest was tied heading into the third period, then the visiting Predators put two third-period goals on the board to give them a 4-2 win.

Here are three takeaways from the game at SAP Center, as the Sharks (43-21-8; 94 points) failed to clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth and regain the Pacific Division lead from the Calgary Flames:

Power play needs to power up

San Jose’s special teams have been a bit iffy over the last couple of games. This time, the power play had difficulty getting going.

The Sharks had multiple opportunities through the first 40 minutes to capitalize on the man advantage, but they came up empty-handed.

This is an area San Jose wants to improve upon as the Stanley Cup playoffs draw near. They don’t have a problem drawing penalties and getting their opportunities, but finding the back of the net on the power play more often could go a long way to boost them come playoff time.

On a positive note for the Sharks …

Angry Joe always delivers

Seasoned Sharks fans know Joe Thornton doesn’t get super angry very often. But when he does, he'll likely score a goal.

So, naturally, after engaging in a chirping matchup with Nashville’s Colton Sissons halfway through the second period, No. 19 made a contribution on the scoresheet.

Thornton's goal tied the score at 2 before the second period expired, giving San Jose the opportunity to take the lead in the third (even though the team couldn’t capitalize on it)

Thornton’s edge also appeared to give the whole Sharks lineup even more jump than it already had. It was another example of how the bearded veteran leads this team, whether by scoring a goal or pumping up the energy.

Back-to-back home losses aren't reason to worry

The Sharks take a lot of pride in their home record, so having back-to-back losses isn’t ideal. There’s probably a little extra salt in that wound because they’ve had two opportunities to clinch a playoff berth and haven’t been able to do it.

However, credit the Predators for playing a good game. And given how well the Sharks have rebounded from losses this season, it’s unlikely they’ll be down for long. They’ll just need to pick it up soon -- probably sooner rather than later with them sitting one point behind the Flames in the Pacific and the Vegas Golden Knights coming to town Monday.

Sharks expecting 'playoff mindset' from Predators in Saturday showdown

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USATSI

Sharks expecting 'playoff mindset' from Predators in Saturday showdown

SAN JOSE -- If the last couple of seasons have shown us anything, it's that you never really know what you'll get when the Sharks face the Predators, whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs.

"You'll remember Game 7 a couple of years ago," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer reminisced with the press Saturday morning as San Jose geared up to host Nashville. "You thought it would be a 2-1 game and it was a blowout. You never know what you're going to get with these two teams."

One thing is for certain, though. Saturday night's game promises to be another playoff-caliber rumble between two Western Conference teams prepping for the postseason.

"I know both teams are in playoff-type mindsets," DeBoer said. "Usually those are tight-checking games."

The Sharks and Preds already have played each other twice this season, with Team Teal winning both games in wild fashion. Those games occurred earlier in the season, however, and some things have changed. For starters, there now are playoff implications at stake.

Nashville is in just as tight of a race for first place in their division as San Jose is in its own. The Predators currently sit in second place in the Central, just one point behind the Winnipeg Jets with two games in hand -- not unlike the Sharks, who again sit one point behind the Calgary Flames in the Pacific. 

"They're desperate, they're fighting for their division," Sharks winger Logan Couture said. "These are big points for them as well as us."

There also have been changes to both lineups since the squads last met. Nashville added forwards Wayne Simmonds, Mikael Granlund and Brian Boyle to its offensive arsenal at the trade deadline, just as San Jose traded for winger Gustav Nyquist. As the Sharks added to their already deep roster, the Predators did exactly the same.

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"They're deep," DeBoer said. "They were already a Stanley Cup contender prior to that, and I don't think that did anything but strengthen them."

Whichever way the pendulum swings, Saturday night's contest promises to be some must-watch hockey.