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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - San Jose finally got its sputtering power play going, but it took an overtime goal from one of its fastest and most reliable players to get the Sharks back on track.
Patrick Marleau is used to this type of stuff.
Marleau scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway goal with 1:36 left in the extra period, lifting San Jose past the struggling Nashville Predators 3-2 on Tuesday night.
"That's what Patty does," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's leading us in goals now and he's scored some big ones down the stretch. That was an extra gear. I don't know, if there wasn't any endboards, he still may be going. He was going that fast."
Marleau hadn't taken a shot the entire night before notching his 27th goal of the season when he and Ian White raced into Nashville's end of the ice with only Ryan Suter standing between the duo and Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Marleau never thought about passing to White and instead flipped the puck past Rinne.
It's the second straight overtime winner Marleau has scored against the Predators. He also scored in overtime when San Jose beat Nashville 2-1 on Feb. 15.
"They had an odd-man rush against (us) and the puck was in our slot," said Marleau, who has seven points in his last six games. "I went to pick it up and it was like a semi 2-on-1. I just was able to get in ... get a quick shot and got it into the net."
Ryan Clowe and Justin Braun also scored, and Antti Niemi made 23 saves as the Sharks won for the ninth time in 10 games.
|After tonight’s overtime decision, some Preds fans might be disappointed at what could have been, however it’s a good time to reflect on what was – Nashville just completed a very challenging road trip with four points in four games. A bounce here or a play there and the team could easily have skated away with an extra one, two, or even three points on the trip, but the Preds now fly home with 76 points heading into the final 15 games of the schedule, 12 of which come in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena. And over the past five seasons, the Preds have been one of the NHL’s elite home teams.
Don’t forget, last year’s squad closed on a 11-3-1 run. A similar closing spurt would leave this year’s team with 99 points – according to several websites that specialize in playoff probabilities for pro sports leagues, that would equate to a 100% playoff probability with a 65-67% chance of qualifying into the No. 4 vs. No. 5 first round match-up.
But even without that type of a hot stretch, the math still looks promising. If the Preds maintain their current pace – 15-7-7 at home this season and 18-7-3 on the road – mathematically the team would earn 18.5 points over the final 15 games. Nineteen points would put the Preds at 95 points for the season, which leads to a probability of playoff participation to somewhere in the 72-75% range (depending on number of wins and overtime points). If the Preds slightly exceed their pace set through the first 67 games of the season, then the probabilities improve in excess of 90% – for example a 20 point finishing spurt (96 points at season’s end) rates out of 92-96% likelihood of a playoff spot, while a 21 point finish (97 points at season’s end) rates out to a 97% chance.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
"We had a couple of good scoring chances and we needed just one good shot to change the game," Rinne said. "(Marleau) is just so fast. A really fast player. He placed the puck perfectly under the bar. It's all about execution. He made a good shot."
San Jose started slow, missed several scoring opportunities late in regulation and appeared headed for a shootout before Marleau's game-winner.
That gave the Sharks their second straight win over the Predators and came three days after their season-high eight-game winning streak ended.
It also was the 143rd victory of McLellan's career, leaving him nine shy of the all-time record for an NHL coach in his third season.
"Very reminiscent of the game in Nashville," McLellan said. "I didn't think we started very well. We weren't sharp and we had to play our way into it."
San Jose led 1-0 and 2-1, but couldn't put the pesky but slumping Predators away until overtime.
Clowe scored on a power play in the first period without having to use his stick. Jason Demers fired a pass from the endboard that Dany Heatley deflected into Clowe's left skate. The puck ricocheted up and over Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne and into the net. Referees reviewed the goal and it was upheld.
The score came just seconds after Heatley missed from in front of the crease, only San Jose's second shot of the opening period.
Rinne finished with 30 saves.
Ward tied it later in the first on a power play when he tapped in his own deflected shot at the 14:22 mark. It's Ward's eighth goal of the season and the fourth of his career in 11 games against San Jose. Martin Erat and Weber had assists.
The Sharks, third in the NHL in power play success, went in having converted one of their previous 12 chances with an advantage.
That drought coincided with the loss of defenseman Dan Boyle, who suffered an upper-body injury against Pittsburgh on Feb. 23. Boyle sat out his fifth straight game Tuesday and it's uncertain when he'll return.
In the meantime, McLellan jumbled his power-play units against Nashville. Demers, who had been filling in for Boyle, was replaced by White on the top line. Forward Devin Setoguchi also moved up from the second unit, exchanging spots with Heatley.
The moves paid off initially.
Braun's score, coming from just inside the blue line near the Sharks bench, gave San Jose a 2-1 lead 4:17 into the second and came after Shane O'Brien was called for hooking.
Nashville tied it again less than two minutes later with another power-play goal. David Legwand took a pass and skated in front of the net then shuffled the puck to Weber, who raced in from the left side and flipped it past Niemi.
"We have points in every game against these guys this year," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "That's not easy to do. Marleau's shot changed direction and it went right under the bar. All their goals went off people's skates and shin pads."
Notes: The game was the 800th of San Jose RW Jamal Mayers' career. Mayers leads the Sharks in penalty minutes. ... The Predators took just four shots on goal in the third.
|Ryane Clowe (19) Deflected shot - ASST: Dany Heatley (32), Jason Demers (19)|
1 - 0 SJS
|PPG - Joel Ward (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Martin Erat (26), Shea Weber (27)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Justin Braun (2) Slapshot - ASST: Dany Heatley (33), Ryane Clowe (31)|
2 - 1 SJS
|PPG - Shea Weber (14) Snap shot - ASST: David Legwand (19), Martin Erat (27)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Patrick Marleau (27) Wrist shot - ASST: Ian White (17)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Jason Demers Holding against David Legwand|
|Ryane Clowe Hooking against Joel Ward|
|Shane O'Brien Hooking against Torrey Mitchell|
|Devin Setoguchi Too many men/ice - bench|
|Joe Thornton Elbowing against Ryan Suter|
|Patric Hornqvist Too many men/ice - bench|
|SA: 33||TOI: 63:24|
|Saves: 30||EV: 26 - 28|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .909||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 25||TOI: 63:24|
|Saves: 23||EV: 16 - 16|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 9|
|SV%: .920||SH: 0 - 0|