SAN JOSE, Calif. – 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 3:34 into overtime, 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.”
Ryane Clowe and Justin Braun also scored, and Antti Niemi made 23 saves as the Sharks won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Joel Ward and Shea Weber had goals for Nashville, which has lost six of 11.
“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 defenceman 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-playgoal. 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.