SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sergei Kostitsyn broke a tie early in the third period by scoring in his fifth straight game to lead the Nashville Predators to their fifth straight win, 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Pekka Rinne made 42 saves, and David Legwand also scored for the Predators, who have bracketed a pair of five-game winning streaks around a five-game skid in their past 15 contests.
Rookie Logan Couture scored the lone goal for San Jose, which has dropped three straight home games this week. The Sharks have lost four straight at home, dating to last month, and have scored just four goals in those losses, including a pair of shutouts.
The most recent blanking by Buffalo on Thursday night prompted a scolding by general manager Doug Wilson, who has grown frustrated by the inconsistent play by last year's Western Conference runner-ups.
That failed to lead to a better result in this game as the Sharks continue to slip in the standings. They had a chance to take the lead early in the third period but Rinne made a nice stop on Devin Setoguchi's shot from the side of the net in the opening minute. Rinne also stopped Joe Thornton from in close on a power play a few minutes later.
Kostitsyn then provided the tiebreaker. He beat Jason Demers to the rebound of a shot by Patric Hornqvist at the side of the net and knocked it past Antti Niemi to give the Predators a 2-1 lead 6:23 into the third. That extended Kostitsyn's career-best scoring streak and proved to be the game-winner.
Rinne was tested throughout the rest of the third period, making a particularly tough save against Patrick Marleau a few minutes after Kostitsyn's goal. Rinne then stopped shots from Setoguchi and Thornton on a 3-on-2 with less than 8 minutes to go. Couture hit the post in the closing seconds to end hopes of a comeback.
Couture ended a more than five-period scoring drought for the Sharks and his own seven-game run without a goal with the equalizer early in the second period. He skated up ice on a 2-on-1 with Jamal Mayers and showed plenty of patience as he came into the offensive zone before firing a shot that beat Rinne to make it 1-1 with his team leading 19th goal.
Niemi helped preserve the tie heading into the third when he made a sharp stop of a deflection by Marek Svatos.
One game after being unable to score on 36 shots against Buffalo's Ryan Miller, the Sharks again peppered the net with shots early but were unable to score. Rinne stopped Jamal Mayers and Ryane Clowe from in close during one stretch midway through the period and made a glove save after a bad line change against Setoguchi later in the first.
In between those two sequences, the Predators took advantage of a turnover in the defensive zone by Dan Boyle, who was unable to control a lose puck with his glove while on his knees. Legwand came up with the loose puck and fired a shot that Niemi saved with his pad. Legwand beat Setoguchi to the loose puck and knocked the rebound past Niemi with a backhand to make it 1-0, drawing boos from the crowd.
NOTES: The Sharks held a moment of silence before the game for former player Tom Cavanagh, who died Thursday at age 28 in what police believe was a suicide. ... Nashville F Nick Saling sat out with an upper body injury sustained Thursday against Los Angeles. ... Sharks F Joe Pavelski missed his sixth straight game with a lower body injury.