Sports

Preds eye perfect homestand vs. Sharks

(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Nashville Predators will try to complete a perfect homestand Tuesday when they host the struggling San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators lead the NHL with 82 points and they carry a 7-1-0 record over their last eight games into tonight's tilt. Nashville has won five straight and hopes to make it six in a row when it welcomes the Sharks in the finale of a four-game homestand. The Preds have won four straight on home ice and boast a 24-3-1 record this season in Music City.

Nashville has scored three goals in each game during its current win streak, which ties the club's longest stretch of victories this season. The Preds also won five in a row from Jan. 6-16, but the franchise hasn't won six straight since March 17-26, 2011.

The Preds' most recent win came Saturday in a 3-1 decision against New Jersey. Colin Wilson scored the game-winning goal, giving Nashville a 2-1 lead with 3:27 to play in regulation. Craig Smith scored a little over a minute later to give the Preds a two-goal cushion.

Smith and Matt Cullen each finished with a goal and an assist, while Pekka Rinne stopped 21 shots for the Predators.

"If I was being honest, we had been playing hard the previous four games, but we weren't on the attack like we were tonight," said Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette. "That's who we are and how we got to this point in the season. I liked it; the guys responded well to it, they were open-minded. I thought it was our best 60 minutes in a while."

Nashville currently leads the Central Division and Western Conference by four points over St. Louis and it holds a four-point edge over Montreal for the top spot in the overall NHL standings.

On Sunday, the Predators made a trade with Toronto, sending veteran centerman Olli Jokinen, forward prospect Brendan Leipsic and a first-round draft pick in 2015 to the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli. Franson and Santorelli both are former draft picks of Nashville and hope to help their former franchise during the stretch run.

Franson has compiled 32 points (6G, 32A) in 55 games for the Leafs this season, while Santorelli has notched 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 tests. However, it is unclear if either player will be available tonight due to lingering immigration issues.

While Nashville has been on fire this month, the Sharks are just 2-4-2 since ending January on a three-game winning streak. As a result, San Jose has fallen into the second wild card spot in the West, where it sits with 66 points, two ahead of Los Angeles and three in front of Minnesota.

However, a win tonight would allow San Jose to jump over Calgary and Vancouver into second place in the Pacific Division. The Canucks and Flames each have 67 points and are both idle tonight.

The Sharks lost for the fourth time in five games when it dropped Sunday's 5-2 decision against visiting Tampa Bay. The Lightning scored the game's first goal with 16 seconds left in the first period and San Jose was never able to even the score after that.

Logan Couture and Brent Burns each scored for the Sharks and Antti Niemi stopped 28-of-32 shots in the loss. It marked the first time San Jose lost at home to the Lightning since March 24, 2003. Tampa had dropped its previous five tilts at the Shark Tank.

"Our attention to details is not where it should be," said Couture, who extended his point streak to six games.

San Jose owns a respectable 15-10-3 record as the visiting team this season, but it has lost four straight and seven of its last 10 trips to Nashville.

The Preds are 7-2-1 in the past 10 overall meetings with the Sharks, but San Jose halted a three-game losing streak in the series with a 2-0 home win on Dec. 13.