SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 8: Anttie Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks makes a save against the Nashville Predators in overtime of an NHL hockey game at the HP Pavilion on March 8, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game in overtime 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
San Jose finally got its sputtering power play going, but it took an overtime goal from one of its fastest and most reliable players to get the Sharks back on track. Patrick Marleau is used to this type of stuff.
Marleau scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway goal with 1:36 left in the extra period, lifting San Jose past the struggling Nashville Predators 3-2 on Tuesday night.
“That’s what Patty does,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “He’s leading us in goals now and he’s scored some big ones down the stretch. That was an extra gear. I don’t know, if there wasn’t any endboards, he still may be going. He was going that fast.”
Marleau hadn’t taken a shot the entire night before notching his 27th goal of the season when he and Ian White raced into Nashville’s end of the ice with only Ryan Suter standing between the duo and Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Marleau never thought about passing to White and instead flipped the puck past Rinne.
It’s the second straight overtime winner Marleau has scored against the Predators. He also scored in overtime when San Jose beat Nashville 2-1 on Feb. 15.
“They had an odd-man rush against (us) and the puck was in our slot,” said Marleau, who has seven points in his last six games. “I went to pick it up and it was like a semi 2-on-1. I just was able to get in … get a quick shot and got it into the net.”
Ryan Clowe and Justin Braun also scored, and Antti Niemi made 23 saves as the Sharks won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Joel Ward and Shea Weber had goals for Nashville, which has lost six of 11.
“We had a couple of good scoring chances and we needed just one good shot to change the game,” Rinne said. “(Marleau) is just so fast. A really fast player. He placed the puck perfectly under the bar. It’s all about execution. He made a good shot.”
San Jose started slow, missed several scoring opportunities late in regulation and appeared headed for a shootout before Marleau’s game-winner.
That gave the Sharks their second straight win over the Predators and came three days after their season-high eight-game winning streak ended.
It also was the 143rd victory of McLellan’s career, leaving him nine shy of the all-time record for an NHL coach in his third season.
“Very reminiscent of the game in Nashville,” McLellan said. “I didn’t think we started very well. We weren’t sharp and we had to play our way into it.”
San Jose led 1-0 and 2-1, but couldn’t put the pesky but slumping Predators away until overtime.