NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Ryan Johansen scored from a sharp angle at 3:18 of overtime to give the Nashville Predators a 1-0 victory over the slumping San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
Juuse Saros made 25 saves for the Predators, who snapped a two-game skid as they try to maintain their hold on a wild card in the tight Western Conference playoff race.
”Tonight was a little more of that mental grind, which is why we talk a lot about mental and physical toughness and the core fabric of our team,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. ”I like the way the guys responded.”
Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 40 shots for the Sharks, who have dropped seven straight games – tying their longest losing streak of the season.
”Good road game,” Kahkonen said. ”We battled hard and we didn’t step back. We did a lot of good things. We were in the game all game, just tough result again, but I think a lot of good things for being on the road and playing a good team.”
In overtime, Johansen took a drop pass inside the blue line and skated down the right side. He appeared to be sending a cross-ice pass toward Mattias Ekholm in front, but the puck caromed in off Kahkonen.
”We were wearing them down throughout the game, spent a lot of time in the O-zone and we figured we’d get a break if we kept going,” Johansen said. ”Got a lucky bounce there at the end and we’ll take it.”
The shutout was Saros’ fourth of the season and 18th of his career.
Saros wasn’t as busy as his Finnish counterpart at the other end, but he made the game’s best save when he denied Rudolfs Balcers on a breakaway with 14:09 remaining in the second period.
”Yeah, I know (Kahkonen) since we were 16 years old and played against each other in junior leagues in Finland,” Saros said. ”It kind of reminded me of those times. It was kind of a fun game from a goalie’s perspective.”
In overtime, Saros stopped Tomas Hertl on a breakaway with his right pad at 1:06 and later turned away Brent Burns’ attempt from the right side at 2:17.
”We talk about this all the time – it’s trying to get some bounces, trying to get a little puck luck, trying to get more shot volume to try and produce some more offense because it’s very hard, as you can see, winning hockey games when the puck’s not going in,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said.
Filip Forsberg appeared to score at 13:29 of the opening period after tipping Roman Josi’s shot by Kahkonen, but the Sharks challenged for offside and the goal was overturned after a replay review.
PERFECT PENALTY KILL
The Sharks entered with the NHL’s third-ranked penalty kill at 85.9%. After denying Nashville on both its opportunities with the man advantage Tuesday, that extended their stretch without allowing a power-play goal to five games. They have permitted just one in their last eight games, killing off 25 of 26 power plays in those games.
Two days after taking Evgeni Malkin’s crosscheck to the face Sunday in Pittsburgh and not playing in the third period of that game, Mark Borowiecki was back in the lineup for Nashville. He wasted no time getting into the action against the Sharks. On his first shift, Borowiecki squared off with Sharks forward Jeffrey Viel. Borowiecki got the better of Viel in the fight, landing several punches before the pair fell to the ice.
On his second shift, Borowiecki was assessed an interference minor and another minor for roughing.
Sharks: Visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Predators: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
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