Preds, Sharks continue their search for offense in San Jose

10:39 AM, Mar 2, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators are averaging the fewest goals per game this season, but have gotten just enough offense to beat the San Jose Sharks twice already in 2013.

The two dormant offenses go head-to-head on Saturday night, when the Preds and Sharks battle for a third and final time this regular season.

The Predators and Sharks have combined to score just three goals against each other in 2013, not including Nashville's credited shootout winner in the first meeting on Feb. 2. That win by the Predators snapped the Sharks' season- opening seven-game winning streak and the club has yet to fully recover.

San Jose has gone just 2-6-4 since winning its first seven and has been held to a pair of goals or fewer in 10 of those games. The Sharks rank 26th in the NHL with 2.21 goals per game, though that does have them ahead of the Predators in scoring.

Nashville ranks last in the league with just an average of 2.05 goals per game, but that hasn't stopped it from beating San Jose twice. In addition to the 2-1 shootout win in San Jose at the start of last month, Nashville also notched a 1-0 home win over the Sharks on Feb. 12.

Pekka Rinne made 25 saves for his 27th career shutout and Colin Wilson scored the game's only goal at the 2:08 mark of overtime.

It was just the latest close game between these clubs, with the Preds going 4-0-1 in the past five encounters. Four of those games have gone beyond regulation and so have the past four meetings in San Jose. Each team owns two wins in that time.

The Sharks' lack of offense was their undoing again on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings as they suffered a 2-1 shootout loss at home. Logan Couture had the lone goal in regulation, but all three San Jose shooters came up empty in the breakaway session.

Antti Niemi made 33 saves before getting beaten once in the shootout as San Jose lost for the third time in four games.

"It's the same story every game," Couture admitted. "We've got to find a way to score more goals. Personally and as a team, we have to find a way to put it into the back of the net. You're not going to win many games scoring one goal, and we've found that out lately."

Nashville was shut out in back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Detroit before exploding for five goals in an overtime win over Dallas on Monday.

The Preds found their offense held in check on Wednesday in Anaheim, falling 5-1 to the Ducks.

Craig Smith scored the lone Nashville goal, while Rinne allowed all five goals on 21 shots before being pulled to start the third period. Chris Mason saved all seven shots he faced in relief, but it wasn't enough as the Predators lost for the fifth time in their last seven games.

"We didn't put pressure on the other team at all," Smith said. "We made it easy for them."

Rinne yielded at least four goals for a third straight game, lifting his season goals against average to 2.10.

Nashville lost the opener of a three-game swing and has dropped four straight as the guest. The Preds are 4-5-2 on the road this season.

The Sports Network

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