Sharks-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 24, 2011
A strong start to a lengthy road trip has the San Jose Sharks back on track. The Nashville Predators hope the beginning of a three-game homestand and the possible return of two key players will help them do the same. The Sharks look for a third consecutive victory Tuesday night when they face the Predators, who are searching for their first home win of the season. San Jose (3-3-0) totaled four goals while dropping three in a row before opening a six-game trip by scoring four goals in each of the first two contests, victories at New Jersey and Boston. Joe Pavelski had a goal with an assist and Massachusetts native Benn Ferriero scored the game-winner in Saturday's 4-2 triumph over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Bruins. The Sharks hope to remain perfect on the trip when they try for a third consecutive victory over Nashville (3-3-1), which snapped a four-game skid with a 2-0 win at Calgary on Saturday. "(The Sharks are) always good," forward Jerred Smithson told the Predators' official website. "They have a lot of skill and are a big team. They play physical if they want, but can also play the skill game. For us, we have to get our skating legs under us early, establish our forecheck, play tight defensively." The Predators prevailed against Calgary thanks mostly to 33 saves from Pekka Rinne. His strong effort came one game after he was pulled for allowing four goals on 16 shots in the first period of Thursday's 5-1 loss at Vancouver. "When you need a win, Pekks is always the guy who can stand up and give you a real good performance," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. Rinne is 3-1-3 with a 2.48 goals-against average versus San Jose. Rinne may need to have another big night for the Predators to avoid dropping three straight home games to open a season for the first time since 2002-03. Nashville could also get a boost from the possible season debuts of forward Mike Fisher (shoulder) and defenseman Francis Bouillon (concussion). "We can be a lot of better and we will be," Trotz said. "Some of that poise and trust isn't quite there, but that will come." Fisher had eight goals and 11 assists in 39 regular season and playoff games last season after the Predators acquired him from Ottawa. A concussion limited Bouillon to 44 games last season after he skated in all but one in 2009-10. Sharks forward Ryane Clowe has a goal and two assists in his last two games, and one goal with five assists in eight career contests against the Predators. Pavelski, meanwhile, has one goal and one assist in each of his last two games but has been held without a point in three straight versus Nashville. Since missing the season's first week to have a cyst removed, San Jose's Antti Niemi is 2-1-0 with a 2.63 GAA. Niemi, who made 37 saves against the Bruins, has stopped 53 of 56 shots while winning his last two starts versus Nashville.
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