By Alan Ferguson
San Jose (48-14-11) at Nashville (35-30-8) 8:00 p.m. EDT
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks used a shootout
win last week against the Nashville Predators to rebound from a
disappointing effort. With another victory over the Predators,
the Sharks would make franchise history and regain the Western
San Jose will try for a team-record 109 points Thursday night in
Nashville and attempt to move two ahead of idle Detroit in the
West with eight games remaining for both clubs.
The Sharks were three points behind the Red Wings following a
4-3 loss at Phoenix on March 17, which prompted a 90-minute,
closed-door meeting among players, coaches and general manager
With a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Predators two nights
later, they launched a three-game win streak that pushed them
back in first for two days until Detroit's victory Tuesday night
Despite scoring twice in the final 5:07 of regulation Wednesday
night, San Jose missed an opportunity to match last season's 108
points and take the conference lead with a 6-5 shootout loss at
Chicago. The Sharks used the point to tie Detroit atop the West
standings and in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
"I just went to the net," said Joe Thornton, who scored the
tying goal with 2:08 remaining. "I just drove wide and shot and
it just happened to go to the back of the net."
With a goal and an assist Wednesday, Thornton has four goals and
seven points in the last five games. Devin Setoguchi scored
twice, giving him four goals and six points in the last four
following a 15-game span in which he had a goal and three
The team's other top-line forward, Patrick Marleau, is expected
to return after missing Wednesday's game due to the birth of his
Jeremy Roenick assisted on the tying goal in his return from a
shoulder injury, but Rob Blake, Ryan Clowe, Marcel Goc, Mike
Grier, Kent Huskins, Tomas Plihal and Claude Lemieux are
expected to remain sidelined for the injury plagued Sharks.
To take the conference lead, San Jose will need to improve on
its recent road struggles as five of its final nine games are
away from home. After beginning the season 14-5-4 on the road,
the Sharks are 4-6-3 as visitors since Feb. 11.
They will attempt to win their fourth straight in Nashville and
add to a 6-0-1 mark against the Predators over the last two
seasons. Nashville took a 4-3 overtime victory Nov. 11 in San
Jose, but the Sharks won 4-1 six nights later at the Sommet
Evgeni Nabokov, who is 9-1-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average
in his last 12 starts, has five straight victories over the
Predators with a 1.58 GAA.
Nashville comes in a point behind eighth-place Edmonton, but
won't have an easy road to a fifth straight playoff berth. After
Thursday, the Predators have two games apiece with three of the
West's other top six teams - Detroit, Chicago and Columbus.
Nashville opened its three-game homestand Tuesday night with its
third straight loss beyond regulation - a 2-1 shootout defeat to
Anaheim that allowed the Ducks to catch the Predators in the
"We need to start getting some wins," said forward Steve
Sullivan, whose team has earned a point in five straight games.
"Getting one point every night is not our hockey and coming down
the stretch, it's not going to be good enough."
Nashville captain Jason Arnott, who has a team-leading 27 goals,
is expected to miss a seventh straight game due to a concussion.