Road-weary Sharks return home to face Preds

A one-win road trip has kept the Sharks outside of the playoff picture. San Jose now hopes that a string of home games can help get it back on track.

The Sharks open a span of six of their next seven at home tonight against the Nashville Predators.

The Sharks capped a 1-1-2 road trip on Tuesday with a 3-2 overtime setback to the Calgary Flames. The loss was San Jose's sixth in seven games and dropped the club to 15-14-7 on the road this season compared to a 19-11-3 mark at home. The Sharks open a three-game homestand tonight just outside of the Western Conference playoff bracket.

San Jose is tied with Los Angeles and Calgary for ninth in the West with 78 points, two behind eighth-place Colorado. The Sharks have played three fewer games than the Avalanche, who visit New Jersey this evening.

Antti Niemi made 19 saves and Logan Couture scored both goals for San Jose on Tuesday, giving him 30 on the season. His game-tying goal with 1:22 left in regulation came on the power play after the Sharks failed to score on their first four chances on the man advantage.

"If I was going to summarize it real quick, our power play took us out of the game and then allowed us to come back in to the game," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan.

Couture is closing in on the career-high 32 goals he potted in 79 games last year and has a pair of goals and two assists in three games versus Nashville this season.

One of tallies came in a 3-1 win at Nashville on Oct. 25, San Jose's third straight victory in this series. However, the Predators have responded with back-to-back wins over the Sharks, taking an overtime win at San Jose on Nov. 5 and a 6-2 rout at home in late February.

Nashville has won just four times in its past 15 trips to San Jose, but comes into this meeting as the fifth seed in the West. The Predators trail the Red Wings by two points for the fourth seed, a position that comes with home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Nashville picked up its third straight win on Monday, beating Phoenix by a 5-4 margin in a shootout. The Predators blew three leads in the game, including a 4-2 advantage in the third period, but still gutted out the win.

"It was disappointing to give them two goals like that," said Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne, who made 31 saves and was perfect in the shootout to log his NHL- leading 39th win of the season.

Martin Erat had a goal and two assists, while Andrei Kostitsyn had the lone tally of the tiebreaker. Rookie Craig Smith, Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon also scored for the Preds, who are trying to post their longest winning streak since closing out January on a five-game run.

The Predators took the opener of a four-game swing that still includes California stops in Los Angeles and Anaheim.