HIGHLIGHTS -- Sharks' streak ends in shootout
SAN JOSE – The Sharks tied the game late in the third period, but lost their first of the season in a shootout to the Nashville Predators, 2-1.
Craig Smith was the only player to convert in the shootout as Michal Handzus, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski all failed to score on Pekka Rinne. The Sharks fell to 7-0-1.
Nashville had a great chance to end it in overtime when Marty Havlat went off on a hook with 2:12 remaining, but San Jose’s much-improved penalty killers were up to the task. Blocked shots by Douglas Murray and Brad Stuart, and a save by Antti Niemi on a blast by Shea Weber sent the game to the shootout – the Sharks’ third straight game to reach the tiebreaker.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Sharks tied it up on a power play goal. Scott Gomez managed to push the puck to Havlat from behind the net, and Havlat’s backhander beat Pekka Rinne at 13:39. It was the first power play goal for the Sharks' second unit.
The goal redeemed Havlat for his blunder earlier in the game. More on that in a bit.
The game was scoreless after two periods before Nashville broke through early in the third.
Brad Stuart played the puck up the boards from behind the Sharks’ net, where Nashville’s Colin Wilson picked it off. Wilson fed Sergei Kostitsyn, who shot the puck through Dan Boyle’s legs past the glove hand of Niemi just 59 seconds into the third period, breaking a scoreless tie.
The Sharks had the best scoring chance through the first two periods, and would have taken the lead were it not for a brain cramp by Havlat. Clowe’s wrist shot beat Rinne and ended up directly behind the goaltender. Havlat could have easily tapped it in, but instead decided to raise his arms in celebration, apparently thinking it has already crossed the line. By the time he realized the goal horn wasn’t blowing, Rinne had time to cover it up with 10:17 left in the second period.
The teams combined to go 0-for-8 on the power play through the first two periods. Logan Couture’s one-timer from the circle was stopped by Rinne late in the first. Rinne robbed Pavelski in the second, getting his pad on Pavelski’s try at the side of the net during a scramble in the crease.
The Sharks killed off all five Predators power plays, increasing their streak to 21 in a row.
San Jose failed to capitalize on its first four power plays before Havlat’s goal, which snapped a 0-for-13 streak. All 12 of the Sharks’ previous power play goals had come from the top unit.
The Predators are 0-for-17 on the power play in their last five games.
Niemi finished with 23 saves, while Rinne turned aside 26 Sharks shots. Niemi fell to 19-12 in his career in shootouts (2-1 this season).
Niemi’s best save came in overtime just before Havlat’s penalty, when he got his toe on a David Legwand attempt in front.
Jason Demers made his season debut after missing the start of the season with a fractured wrist. He was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, while Boyle and Stuart were together on the blue line. Rookie Matt Irwin was scratched for the first time.
TJ Galiardi returned from a one-game benching, and Tommy Wingels sat for the Sharks.
The Predators were without leading scorer Martin Erat (lower body) injury.
A bloody Kostitsyn left the ice in the first period after getting sandwiched between Murray and Patrick Marleau with 7:32 left in the first, but returned to score his first goal.
The Sharks concluded a six-game homestand with a 5-0-1 mark.
San Jose visits Anaheim on Monday and returns home on Tuesday to host Chicago. Seven of the next nine games are on the road.
The Sharks allowed the first goal for the second time in eight games … Joe Pavelski’s seven-game point streak to start the season came to an end. … The Sharks fell to 1-0-1 when tied after two periods.