Updated at: 03/03/2013 1:38 AM
By JOSH DUBOW
(AP) SAN JOSE, Calif. - Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski got San Jose’s struggling power-play unit going with goals that helped the Sharks beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Saturday night.
The Sharks had converted on just three of their past 62 power-play chances heading into the game, a major reason for a February swoon that featured 10 losses in 12 games.
But with the man-advantage unit clicking like it did in scoring 12 goals the first five games, San Jose again looked like the team that started the lockout-shortened season with a franchise record seven straight wins in January.
Joe Thornton and Logan Couture assisted on both goals, and Antti Niemi made 18 saves for the Sharks, who moved from a tie for eighth into a tie for fourth in the tightly packed Western Conference, one point ahead of the Predators.
The Predators were hoping for a better result after practicing on the two off days in San Jose following a 5-1 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday night. Instead they fell for the sixth time in eight games, getting only a short-handed goal by Gabriel Bourque with 5:30 remaining.
Despite only 12 shots on goal the first two periods, the Predators tested Niemi a few times but he was up to the task. He had made two tough saves to stop Paul Gaustad midway through the second period right before Ryan Ellis was called for tripping Andrew Desjardins in the offensive zone.
The Sharks didn’t wait long to make Nashville pay as Couture poked the puck from behind the net to in front, and Pavelski knocked it in before Pekka Rinne even saw it just 16 seconds into the power play to make it 2-0.
Bourque got the Predators back into it when Matt Irwin failed to keep the puck in at the blue line on the power play. Bourque raced to the loose puck and beat Niemi for the goal.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson criticized his team for passing too much instead of shooting the puck, and the message clearly got through as they put 16 shots on net in the opening period.
Rinne stopped all but one but was screened by Joe Pavelski on Boyle’s slapper from the point 19 seconds after Kevin Klein was sent to the penalty box for slashing Logan Couture. The goal was the first for Boyle since the second game of the season and the first for any Sharks defender since Irwin scored on Jan. 26 against Edmonton.
Niemi preserved the lead with two tough stops on Patric Hornqvist and Craig Smith on a power play late in the period.
NOTES: Nashville F Brandon Yip left in the first period with an upper body injury after crashing into the boards. ... The Predators failed to earn a point for just the second time in 11 games against the Sharks. ... Thornton got his 1,100th career point with an assist on Pavelski’s goal. ... San Jose has only five goals from its defensemen all season. ... Sharks F Tommy Wingels missed his second straight game since going face first into the boards Saturday in Dallas.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)