Predators play spoiler, blank Sharks 3-0
A long shot to make the playoffs, the Nashville Predators played the role of giant killers again Saturday night, taking down the Sharks 3-0 at SAP Center.
Fresh off Nashvilles 5-2 win in Anaheim on Friday, Patric Hornqvist scored two goals and added an assist as the visitors broke away with a three-goal second period. Predators backup goalie Carter Hutton made 35 saves, 19 in the third period, for his first career shutout.
Its a missed opportunity, defenseman Dan Boyle said. Nashville went into (Anaheims) building and did their job. And, unfortunately, we didnt do ours to take advantage of it.
The Sharks squandered possibly their last chance to overtake Anaheim in the Pacific Division. A win would have moved San Jose a point ahead of the Ducks, who play Sunday at Edmonton and Monday at Vancouver before hosting the Sharks on Wednesday in a game that may now have lost its luster.
Nashville is six points behind Dallas for the final West playoff spot with four games left.
After a game against L.A. with all the excitement and enthusiasm we had, theres always a worry youre going to have a letdown next game, defenseman Jason Demers said. With all the leadership in the room, weve just got to play hard, play like we did against L.A. We didnt and weve done that a lot this year.
In the final period, Nashville kept most of San Joses efforts to score on the outside. Brent Burns drew iron twice and Matt Irwin once.
Their defense did a really good job of shutting us out, captain Joe Thornton said. We didnt seem to have a lot tonight.
After San Jose failed on an early power play in the second period, the Preds went to work on goalie Antti Niemi. Matt Cullen skated out behind the net and put a low shot into the goalies pads that an unmarked Hornqvist dug out and deposited into the net at 3:48.
As on the first goal, a failed San Jose power play was again followed by a Hornqvist tally. This time, Nick Spaling fended off Boyle to skate behind the net and feed Hornqvist in the slot for a one-timer at 8:59 for the forwards 20th goal.
On the goals we got beat on, they were just positioning and details, Boyle said. Its something 79 games in we should have dialed in by now. We were on the wrong side and it cost us a win.
Nashville defenseman Roman Josi then drove the net on the left side, beating Demers along the way, and lifted a soft shot over Niemi for his 12th goal at 13:16.
Seventy-nine games in, were in a race and weve got to be better than that, Thornton said. Now weve got a big game on Wednesday. Weve got a couple days to be ready for that.
Briefly: Defenseman Scott Hannan was San Joses lone scratch. ... Hutton was once Sharks property. He appeared in 22 games for Worcester of the AHL in 2010-11 before leaving via free agency.
Ross McKeon is a freelance writer. Twitter: @rossmckeon