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Smith lifts Preds past Sharks

Just a few days ago, the Nashville Predators were 0-3 in shootouts to start the 2012-13 season and questions were raised about their ability to get the job done in the skills competition. On Saturday night against San Jose, the Predators got their second consecutive shootout victory to improve their record to 3-2-3 on the season so far.

Nashville got the 2-1 shootout victory over San Jose, which gave the Sharks their first loss of any kind this season. Sergei Kostitsyn scored the lone goal for the Predators in regulation, while Martin Havlat had San Jose’s only tally of the night. Both Pekka Rinne and Antti Niemi were very solid in net. Rinne stopped 26 of 27 shots while Niemi stopped 23 of 24 shots.

Craig Smith was the lone goal-scorer in the shootout for both teams. He scored on Nashville’s second attempt, and Rinne stopped all three  San Jose shooters. Smith made a beautiful forehand to backhand move that froze Niemi just long enough for Smith to lift the puck up and over Niemi and into the net.

The Predators played this game without Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist, who are two of their top offensive threats. Nashville wasn’t able to generate a lot of offense, but they did create more chances than they had been creating in the last few games. St. Louis will be the final stop on Nashville’s seven-game road trip on Tuesday night.

Five things about tonight’s game…

- Jon Blum played his first game of the season and was pretty solid. Blum had 11:21 of ice time and fired three shots on goal. It was his first game back in the NHL since Dec. 30, 2011.

- Pekka Rinne appears to be in Vezina Trophy caliber form once again. He was sensational in net again for the Predators and really tracked the puck well.

- Martin Havlat scored San Jose’s lone goal on the night, but he had a great chance to score another goal before that. Ryane Clowe fired a shot that hit the post and trickled back toward the crease. Havlat appeared to think the puck actually went in and put his hands up to celebrate. He missed the puck because of that, and the Predators dodged a bullet.

- The Predators held San Jose to their fewest amount of goals scored this season with one goal scored. Nashville’s defense appears to be clicking right now.

- Sergei Kostitsyn scored his first goal of the season on a beautiful feed from Colin Wilson. Kostitsyn played his strongest game of the season on both sides of the puck.

Three stars of tonight’s game…

1. Pekka Rinne, NSH…Rinne was fantastic for the Predators in net, stopping 26 of 27 shots.

2. Antti Niemi, SJS…Niemi was also very good in net for the Sharks, stopping the Predators from point-blank range on several occasions.

3. Sergei Kostitsyn, NSH…Kostitsyn scored a goal and had a really strong overall game for the Predators. He needed to step up with Erat out and he did.

Highlights…

 
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