Thanks to Nashville's Craig Smith and Pekka Rinne, the San Jose Sharks' perfect season is over.
Smith scored the only goal in the shootout and Rinne stopped all three San Jose shooters to give the Nashville Predators a 2-1 victory on Saturday night, ending the Sharks' season-opening winning streak at seven games.
Smith raced in on Antti Niemi, deked him to the ice and flipped a backhander into the net. Pekka Rinne then stopped Joe Pavelski for the win, Nashville's second shootout victory in as many games -- the Predators won 2-1 in an eight-round tiebreaker on Thursday. Five of Nashville's eight games have gone to a shootout.
"These are the type of games we're going to be involved in from now until the end of the year," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It can be a little frustrating that it's not a Picasso, but it's real."
The road-weary Predators improved to 3-2-1 on a seven-game trip that ends Tuesday in St. Louis.
"We had a lot of guys step up tonight," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We had about 800 line combinations tonight for a good portion because we dressed seven [defensemen], and then Sergei [Kostitsyn] got hurt a little bit there in the first. But we battled. That was a Predator win."
Smith had been scoreless in four shootout attempts before this season. He's made two of his four tries after making some adjustments.
"I had some trouble over the past year with my moves and what I was going to do," he said. "We went over some video with the coaches, and I think we got a few moves down.
"This time I wanted to come in with some speed. I noticed that his right knee is going to go down, and I wanted to make sure I could get over and get it up high."
Rinne, who has played in all five of Nashville's shootout, lost the first three but has won the last two.
"I'm finally making some saves in the shootout," Rinne said. "It's been a challenge for us but already we're on our fifth shootout. That's quite a bit since we've played eight games. It was a big win for us. Smitty's goal in the shootout was nice, and this time I was able to make the saves we needed to get the win."
The last two of San Jose's victories also came in shootouts -- they beat Anaheim on Tuesday and Edmonton on Thursday. The Sharks' team-record third straight tiebreaker didn't turn out as well against the defense-minded Predators.
"They play good defense with great goaltending," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We had our chances. We just didn't bear down. It was just a good, hard-fought game."
Neither team scored until Nashville's Sergei Kostitsyn beat Niemi 59 seconds into the third period. Colin Wilson controlled the puck along the right boards and found Kostitsyn in the slot for a quick shot that caught the corner for his first goal of the season.
But the Predators were called for having too many men on the ice with 7:34 remaining, and the Sharks took advantage to tie the game. Scott Gomez freed the puck behind the net and slid it to Martin Havlat, who whipped a backhander past Niemi from the slot for his third of the season.
"Once they scored that first goal -- we were coming, we were coming," Thornton said. "Marty's goal was nice and we had some good chances after that."
Nashville had a power-play chance in overtime when Havlat was called for hooking with 2:12 remaining, but the Sharks killed off the penalty -- extending their streak to 21 straight kills.
Material from team media was used in this report.
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