Sharks' slide continues in loss to Predators

Mark Humphrey/APSharks goalie Alex Stalock (32) is unable to make a save against the Predators' Craig Smith.

Mark Humphrey/APSharks goalie Alex Stalock (32) is unable to make a save against the Predators' Craig Smith.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pekka Rinne made a season-high 42 saves, and the Nashville Predators extended their winning streak to a season-high six straight games by beating the San Jose Sharks 5-1 Tuesday night.

The Predators scored five unanswered goals for the win. Craig Smith scored twice, and Shea Weber scored and had an assist. Paul Gaustad and James Neal each had a goal, Mike Ribeiro had two assists as the Predators padded their lead atop the NHL standings to 84 points, six ahead of Montreal.

Matt Irwin scored for San Jose. The Sharks, losers of two straight, are 1-4-1 with the Kings looming Saturday at Levi's Stadium.

An ice storm that hit Tennessee on Monday left thousands without power and area roads either closed or covered with crashes Tuesday morning. With the season winding down and the Sharks already in town, they had no choice but to play as scheduled.

The Predators thanked 8,215 fans who came out by giving them half-price sodas and beer into the first intermission, with popcorn free all night for the final part of a four-game home stand. The NHL's best team on home ice made it worth the trip, improving to 25-3-1 in Nashville.

The Sharks scored first, taking advantage of a breakdown with Irwin skating up the slot for a wrist shot that beat Rinne 5:26 in. That was it for San Jose.

Nashville scored the next five goals, starting with Weber on a slap shot from the point off a faceoff. Then Smith gave Nashville a 2-1 lead when he batted the puck into the net.

The Predators took control in the opening minutes of the second. Smith scored his second of the game and 17th this season with a wrister on the power play 52 seconds into the period. Gaustad made it 4-1 just 51 seconds later with his own wrist shot.

San Jose went on the man advantage at 2:14, and Rinne first stopped Logan Couture at the left post before diving back to his right and stopping a shot by Pavelski off his mask, with the puck bouncing around Rinne's arms.

Officials reviewed the sequence and ruled no goal. By the time the Predators finished the killing the penalty, fans were chanting “MVP” for the goalie who is 15-1-1 in his last 17 games.

Neal became the first of the Predators to reach 20 goals this season with a wrister from the left circle midway in the second period.

That was all Rinne needed as he earned his league-best 34th win.

Notes: Defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli officially were scratched by Nashville as they finish up paperwork following Sunday's trade with Toronto, hoping to join the Predators during their upcoming three-game road trip. … The Predators are 17-11-2 when the opponent scores first. … Neal now has eight straight seasons with at least 20 goals. … Ribeiro has 37 assists this season. He also has 31 points in his last 35 games, with six goals and 25 assists.

HockeyNashville PredatorsPekka RinneSan Jose Sharks

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