The Sharks (6-5-0) have a lot in common with the best franchise in sports, the Nashville Predators (5-4-2). They both boast a strong top four on defense, they both lost in their only Stanley Cup Final appearance to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, and they both have 12 points in 11 games on the season, but over the past few games they seem to be headed in opposite directions. While the Predators are 1-2-1 in their last four games, the Sharks are 3-1-0, and 5-2-0 in their last seven. Nashville hopes to turn their fortunes around on the first contest of their four game road trip through the great American West, and San Jose looks to keep the good times rolling.
The Perds have had a few days to rest and ruminate on their 6-2 loss to the New York Islanders Saturday night, and will return to their starting goaltender, Pekka Rinne, after an all too brief foray into the gentle Finnish arms of backup Juuse Saros. Rinne has started the season hot, posting a 5-1-2 record to go along with a goals against average of 1.86 and a save percentage of .940.
Nashville's biggest strength, however, is their defense, where the top three of P.K. Subban, team captain Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm have 19 points in their last 11 games. Forward Filip Forsberg leads the team with eight goals and 13 points, and 12 (seven goals, five assists) in his last nine games (condolences to George McPhee and fans of the Washington Capitals). His record against San Jose is less impressive: three points (one goal, two assists) in nine games. Prized trade acquisition Ryan Johansen has struggled to start the year, posting six assists in 11 games, and is still looking for his first goal.
In a quirk of NHL scheduling, San Jose is set to face only their second Western Conference opponent of the year in game 12. The Sharks are coming off of one of their best efforts of the season, an emotional contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs and former Shark Dominic Moore. The boys out shot the Leafs 39-18 and came away with a 3-2 victory, thanks in part to the heroics of rookie defenseman Tim Heed. Heed has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four appearances. Joes Thornton and Pavelski are close to milestones; Thornton is one point away from 1400, and Pavelski is two goals from 300.
The Sharks can create their longest winning streak of the young season with a win tonight, and doesn't that feel nice?
Kevin Labanc -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl
Joonas Donskoi -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Ryan Carpenter -- Joel Ward
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Tim Heed
Scratched: Barclay Goodrow, Dylan DeMelo, Jannik Hansen
Injured: Paul Martin (ankle)
Win and you're in seems to be the strategy lately, which is more bad news for poor Dylan DeMelo.
Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson
Scott Hartnell -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Miikka Salomaki
Kevin Fiala -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith
Cody McLeod -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Austin Watson
Alexei Emelin -- P.K. Subban
Roman Josi -- Mattias Ekholm
Matt Irwin -- Samuel Girard
Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Yannick Weber, Pontus Aberg
Injured: Nick Bonino (lower body), Ryan Ellis (knee)
Nick Bonino participated in the Predators' optional skate this morning, but is still a ways from returning. Bitetto and Weber join the healthy scratch list to make room for rookie Sam Girard and the Brentwood Bay Bomber himself, Matt Irwin.
Where to watch
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App