Sharks host Preds with chance to grab first place

( - The San Jose Sharks will try to take over sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division on Saturday when they host the Nashville Predators at SAP Center.

The Sharks, who have already locked up a playoff spot and can finish no lower than second in the division, are one point behind the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific lead. The Ducks are idle Saturday after losing to the visiting Predators on Friday, but do hold a game in hand over San Jose, which has four tilts left on its regular-season slate.

San Jose has won its first two games in April after ending last month by dropping four of five tilts. Both victories have come at the start of a three- game homestand that is set to end tonight.

The Sharks improved to 28-6-5 as the host this season with Thursday's close regulation win over Los Angeles. Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots to help San Jose edge the Kings, 2-1. Brent Burns and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks.

The win assured San Jose that it'll finish no lower than second in the division, while the setback locked L.A. into third place.

"The opponent, the environment, what's on the line, it brought the best out of us," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said.

After visiting Anaheim on Wednesday, the Sharks will close their regular season with a home game against Colorado on Friday followed by a final test the following night in Phoenix.

Nashville, meanwhile, is headed for a second straight season out of the playoffs. The club Predators are seven points behind Phoenix for the last postseason berth in the West with only five games remaining on their schedule.

The Preds have won two straight and five of their last seven games. They slammed the Ducks by a 5-2 score last night in Anaheim, scoring the game's first three goals before taking a 4-1 lead into the second period.

Mike Fisher posted two goals and an assist in the rout at the Honda Center. Colin Wilson scored twice, Patric Hornqvist gave a goal and two assists while Matt Cullen had three helpers for the Predators. Pekka Rinne stopped 27 shots in the win.

"We're going to try and keep winning here," said Wilson. "It is hard to say. Statistically it's not the greatest chance but you never know. If you go on a run at the end, you always want to be passing other teams. So we'll see what happens."

Nashville is playing the second test of a three-game road trip on Saturday and is 17-15-6 as the visiting team this season. The Preds have won three of their last four road games.

The Sharks are 0-2 against Nashville this season, but this marks the first encounter between the clubs in San Jose. The Predators recorded a pair of 3-2 regulation wins earlier this season in Music City to give them victories in four of five and six of the last eight meetings.

Nashville, however, has lost two of three and six of nine on the road in this series.