“If you keep putting pucks at the net good things are going to happen,” Trotz said after Nashville’s 4-3 victory Thursday night. “Three of our goals were at the net. We did a good job of going to the net and getting pucks there. We were getting the dirty goals. We were going to hard places, and when you go to those hard places you get rewarded.”
It was the first game between the teams since the Sharks knocked out the Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season.
Scott Hartnell led Nashville with two goals, both scored around the net. His winner with 2:29 left in the third period was a crafty moved mixed in with a little luck.
After skating down the right side and taking a shot, Hartnell followed up and fired the rebound from behind the goal, hitting goalie Vesa Toskala in the back and deflecting the puck into the net.
“You see it all the time in highlights when players bank a shot off of the goalie,” Hartnell said. “That’s what I was trying to do. I didn’t think it would work, but then I saw it trickle over the line.”
San Jose’s Mark Bell added to the Sharks’ NHL-leading power play with the first goal of the game at 11:21 of the first period.
Nashville answered less than a minute later, with rookie Alexander Radulov scoring his first NHL goal on a wrist shot that beat Toskala on his stick side from the inside the right circle.
The Predators took a 2-1 lead on Hartnell’s tip-in.
Paul Kariya gave Nashville a 3-1 lead with 2:08 left in the second period, scoring as he slid on his knees in front of the net.
The Predators played a strong second period, shutting down San Jose without a shot for the first 15 minutes.
“You have to play loose against San Jose and play zone hockey,” Nashville’s Jason Arnott said. “You can’t force anything on them. We tried to keep them in their zone as much as possible and cycle the puck.”
Milan Michalek trimmed the lead to 3-2 a little over a minute later.
The Sharks then tied it in the third period with their second power-play goal of the game. Joe Thornton took a shot from the right side, but the puck was stopped by goalie Tomas Vokoun. The puck remained loose in front of the net before Patrick Marleau put it past Vokoun.
It was the second straight loss for the Sharks and also was their second when scoring the first goal of the game.
“We’re not playing consistent 60-minute hockey,” San Jose’s Kyle McLaren said. “It’s costing us games. It is inexcusable and has to be addressed. We are not going to go anywhere playing the way we are now.”
Notes: Kimmo Timonen played in his 502nd game for the Predators, tying Greg Johnson’s team record. … Toskala ended a 12-game win streak, the longest in the franchise history of the Sharks. … Marleau and Michalek both scored for San Jose, keeping them tied for the team lead with 12 points each. … Nashville’s Martin Erat had one assist to extend his points streak to four straight games.