NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 2nd (All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (2-2-3) at San Jose Sharks (7-0-0), 10:30 p.m.
(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 first round.
"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.
02/02 10:29:27 ET