Nashville hands San Jose first loss of season in shootout
Smith's goal, Rinne's saves propel Predators past Sharks
Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 10:51 p.m.
SAN JOSE — Craig Smith scored the lone goal in the shootout and Pekka Rinne stopped all three San Jose attempts to help the Nashville Predators hand the Sharks their first
loss of the season, 2-1 on Saturday night.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored his first goal of the season to break a scoreless tie in the opening minute of the third period. Rinne made 26 saves through overtime and led the Predators to their second straight shootout win after they lost their first three this season.
Marty Havlat made up for a premature celebration that cost San Jose a goal by scoring the equalizer on the power play with 6:21 remaining in regulation.
But the Sharks were unable to get the next goal and missed a chance at their eighth straight victory to tie for the third longest season-opening winning streak in NHL history.
Smith beat Antti Niemi with a backhand in the second round of the shootout, ending a stretch of six straight shootout stops by Niemi. The Predators got the win when Rinne stopped Joe Pavelski on the next attempt.
The Predators got on the board after Colin Wilson intercepted Brad Stuart's soft clearing attempt up the boards. With two Sharks closing in on him, Wilson slid a pass to Kostitsyn, who beat Niemi with a wrister on just his fifth shot this season.
But Havlat made up for his earlier mistake after the Predators took a penalty for too many men on the ice. Scott Gomez got Havlat the puck after a turnover, and Havlat beat Rinne off the backhand for his third goal. That ended a drought of 14 power plays without a goal for San Jose.
The first two periods featured 32 shots, eight power plays, and one goal celebration but no goals as Havlat's blunder cost the Sharks one.
The mistake came midway through the second period after Ryane Clowe's shot from the circle trickled past Rinne and hit the post before settling near the goal line. Havlat came in alone and easily could have tapped the puck into the empty net had he not raised his arms in celebration. By the time Havlat realized his mistake, he was not in position to tap in the puck, much to his disappointment.
That was by far the best scoring chance for either team as the power plays for the most part failed to generate quality chances. San Jose had one strong flurry with the man advantage, shortly before Havlat's mistake, but Rinne stopped Patrick Marleau and Pavelski from in close on rebound attempts.
Each team failed on four power-play chances in the first two periods, with the Predators extending their drought with the man advantage to 16 straight chances. The Sharks, who had 12 power-play goals in the first five games, missed on their first four chances before striking in the third period.
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