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Sharks Hoping To Prevent Three-Game Skid Against Predators

(Sports Network) - Just one point separates the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference standings. The two meetings so far this year between the clubs have been just as close.

The Predators try to pick up a third straight victory both overall and against the Sharks, who wrap their longest road trip of the season this evening at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville has picked up a victory in three of its last four games and is sixth in the Western Conference with 67 points, seven back of first-place Detroit in the Central Division. The Sharks are one point back of the Preds and tied for seventh in the West, but are just three points behind the Pacific Division- leading Coyotes.

The Predators recovered from two different deficits to knock off the Avalanche on Saturday thanks to Cody Franson's game-winning goal with 2:30 left in regulation.

"We made a good play to get it up the wall and I tried to take it to the middle a little bit and try and lose the guy who was trying to check me," said Franson. "I just try tried to put it on net to give our forwards a chance for a rebound and lucky enough it went in."

Martin Erat had a goal and two assists, and Mike Fisher assisted on David Legwand's empty-net tally in his Nashville debut after being acquired from Ottawa on Thursday for a pair of draft picks. Pekka Rinne faced just 18 shots, stopping 15 of them in the win.

Nashville won the opener of a four-game homestand and is 5-1-1 in its last seven as the host. Center Marcel Goc is expected to return to action tonight after missing the last game with an upper-body injury, while forward Marek Svatos could play for the first time since Jan. 13 due to a knee ailment.

The Preds own a pair of one-goal victories over the Sharks this year, a 3-2 home win on Dec. 15 and a 2-1 triumph in San Jose on Jan. 8. Nashville's victory at Bridgestone Arena in December gave the club wins in three of four and 10 of its last 14 at home in this series.

Rinne, among the league leaders with a 2.11 goals-against average and .928 save percentage, is 3-1-1 with a 2.53 GAA lifetime versus San Jose.

Winning close games has eluded the Sharks in their last two contests. After a 9-0-1 stretch, San Jose was a 2-1 loser in New Jersey on Friday before dropping a 3-2 decision two days later at Florida. That has the Sharks 4-2 on a seven-game road trip that ends tonight.

Joe Pavelski and Kent Huskins tallied for San Jose, while Antti Niemi stopped 19 shots in defeat.

"We got lackadaisical [in the third period] ... A couple of stupid errors cost us the game," Sharks forward Joe Thornton said.

Niemi is 1-2-0 with a 3.06 GAA lifetime against the Predators.