The San Jose Sharks will take on the Nashville Predators today for the third and final time this season. The last time these teams met, on February 22, the Predators took home a 7-1 win. Pekka Rinne’s 300th career NHL win and 12 different Predators players recording a point made this an embarrassing loss for the Sharks. A much different Sharks squad beat the Preds 4-1 back in November. The Sharks will be looking for a rebound game tonight.
The Sharks enter tonight sitting comfortably in second place in the Pacific Division with a record of 44-23-10, whereas the Predators are currently not only first place in the Central Division with a record of 49-16-11, but they are also the top team in the NHL.
San Jose is currently coming off a tough 3-2 shootout loss against the St. Louis Blues in a game that snapped the Sharks’ eight-game winning streak. Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski got on the board, but the Sharks couldn’t stop Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored two goals in the game including the overtime winner.
Meanwhile, Nashville is coming off a 2-1 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. The win just added to the crazy month this team is having. Through 14 games so far in March, the Predators have gone 10-2-2 within that time. Nashville has scored 40 goals through the 14 games, but have also allowed 33 goals against.
Will the Sharks be able to control the crazy Nashville offense?
Nashville is a team lacking a true top-line superstar, but instead they have four lines that can all score. Nashville has scored 245 goals so far this year, which is good for eighth place in the whole NHL while also holding the fourth-best goal differential, posting a +52 mark through their first 76 games. Viktor Arvidsson (58 points), Filip Forsberg (55 points), and Ryan Johansen (48 points) are the big three for Nashville and will be the must-watch players in tonight’s game.
How can the Sharks bounce back from their last loss and move on?
San Jose just had their season longest eight-game winning streak snapped two days ago in that overtime loss against the Blues. The Sharks have now registered a point in nine straight games going 8-0-1 within that time, but will have a tough contest tonight if they want to extend that streak to 10 games. The Sharks will need to get the momentum early in the game in order to find their game again and keep rolling against the best team in the league.
Can the Sharks fix their struggling power play?
If there has been one negative to the Sharks’ play over the past couple games, it has to be their power play. San Jose has only recorded one goal on the man-advantage in their last 14 opportunities and that has to change. San Jose owns the 11th best power-play in the league, boosted by earlier season success, and will have some trouble tonight against the eighth-best ranked Predators penalty kill.
Bold Prediction: The Sharks will come out flying tonight and take the game by a score of 3-2. Kane will record another goal and goalie Martin Jones will have the game of his life, carrying the Sharks to their ninth win in 10 games.