(Sports Network) - The only thing that may be as impressive as the San Jose
Sharks' start to the season is their collection of points at home against the
Nashville Predators over the last decade.
The Sharks try to stay unbeaten on the season Saturday evening as they play
host to the Predators.
San Jose is off to the best start in franchise history after winning each of
its first seven games of the season. The last two have come in a shootout and
have put the Sharks on the verge of wrapping up a perfect six-game homestand
with another victory on Saturday.
Following a 3-2 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, the Sharks
bested the Edmonton Oilers by the same score two nights later, getting goals
from Michal Handzus and Dan Boyle in the breakaway session. Antti Niemi
prevented the Oilers from scoring on their two attempts in the victory.
It marked the second straight game that Handzus notched a shootout goal in the
"He's elite, one of the best in the league and we're fortunate to have him in
that situation. He seems to make it count more often than not," Sharks coach
Todd McLellan said about Handzus, who is 18-for-34 lifetime in shootouts.
Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Sharks, while
Niemi stopped 26 shots through overtime.
San Jose already has a solid lead atop the Pacific Division, but McLellan
isn't punching a postseason ticket just yet.
"There is nothing more to say other than it's 14 points. The schedule's so
compacted, it's a short season," he said. "The more you can bank points the
better off you are. We'll have our share of times where we're frustrated and
maybe not winning, but right now we've got to keep putting them in the bank as
much as we possibly can."
San Jose has banked a ton of points over the years at home against Nashville,
going 12-1-3 in the last 16 encounters dating back to the 2003-04 season.
The Sharks have won four the last six meetings overall.
The Predators, meanwhile, are hoping to string together consecutive wins for
the first time this season as they continue their road-heavy start. Nashville
embarked on a seven-game road trip after opening the campaign with two at
home, a trek that will finally end on Tuesday in St. Louis.
The Preds snapped a three-game slide on Thursday, besting the Los Angeles
Kings 2-1 in a shootout after logging just 11 shots in regulation and another
three in overtime.
Brandon Yip scored 58 seconds into the game and Sergei Kostitsyn had the
shootout winner in the eighth round. Pekka Rinne made 23 saves to earn his
first victory of the season.
"The win was important to (Rinne) and a weight is off his back." Predators
head coach Barry Trotz said of his goaltender, who was 0-2-3 coming in. "We
would have been mentally scarred if we didn't win this one."
After being near-flawless over 65 minutes, Rinne did allow three shootout
goals, but he stopped the Kings' Simon Gagne to allow Kostitsyn the chance to
net the winner.
The Sports Network