Programming note: Sharks-Predators coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
Where they stand
Sharks: 16-11-4, 36 points, 4th Pacific Division
Predators: 19-7-2, 40 points, 2nd Central Division
Sharks: The Sharks won their fifth straight home game with 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Thursday. Brent Burns’ power play goal in the second period opened the scoring, while Joe Pavelski’s third period marker was the game-winner. Alex Stalock made 18 saves in net in his third straight start. After tonight, the Sharks are off until Thursday when they host Edmonton, and they close out a five-game homestand next Saturday vs. St. Louis.
Predators: Nashville cruised to a 5-1 win in Arizona on Thursday, with five different players scoring goals. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves in the win, as the Predators won for the seventh time in their last nine games. They are concluding a three-game road trip that started with a victory in Colorado on Tuesday.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Barclay Goodrow. The 21-year-old scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday against Edmonton, and set up Linemate Melker Karlsson for a golden scoring opportunity on Thursday against Minnesota. Goodrow also showed his commitment to the team late in the third period, blocking two shots on the same shift with the Sharks clinging to a one-goal lead. He will remain on the third line tonight, along with center James Sheppard, after a strong showing by that group in the last two games.
Predators: Filip Forsberg. The Swede tallied his 10th multi-point game of the season with two assists on Thursday against Arizona, and leads Nashville and all NHL rookies in scoring with 12 goals and 29 points. The emerging 20-year-old also leads the entire NHL with a +25 rating (seven more than anyone else), and his 17:20 in ice time leads all rookie forwards.
Goals per game: 2.77 (15th)
Goals-against per game: 2.52 (11th)
Power play: 24.5 percent (3rd)
Penalty kill: 83.2 percent (10th)
Goals per game: 2.68 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 1.93 (1st)
Power play: 11.2 percent (28th)
Penalty kill: 79.7 percent (19th)
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Barclay Goodrow – James Sheppard – Melker Karlsson
Tye McGinn – Chris Tierney – Andrew Desjardins
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Brent Burns
Scott Hannan – Matt Tennyson
Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – James Neal
Matt Cullen – Mike Fisher – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Calle Jarnkrok – Olli Jokinen
Eric Nystrom – Derek Roy – Gabriel Bourque
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Anton Volchenkov – Seth Jones
Pekka Rinne (confirmed starter)
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right knee), Tyler Kennedy (shoulder), Matt Nieto (ankle) and Mike Brown (lower body) are out.
Predators: Viktor Stalberg (right knee) and Paul Gaustad (lower body) are out.
This is the first of three games between the Sharks and Predators. San Jose visits Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 6, while Nashville returns on March 12.
The Predators are 7-1-1 in their last nine meetings against the Sharks, who are 2-4-3 including one shootout win. The teams have alternated wins in the last eight meetings in San Jose, with Nashville claiming a 3-0 win here last April 5.
Odds and ends
“Marc-Edouard Vlasic will return to the lineup after a one-game absence (upper body injury).
*Patrick Marleau is third among all active players with 85 game-winning goals (Jaromir Jagr 125, Jarome Iginla 92).
*Joe Thornton has 51 points (9g, 42a) in 42 games vs. Nashville.
*Nine of the Sharks’ 18 skaters against the Wild were 25 years of age or younger.
*St. Paul’s Alex Stalock became the first Minnesota native to record a win against the Wild and just the second Minnesota-native netminder to ever face the club (Damian Rhodes) on Thursday.
* Marleau has tallied points in six of his last seven games (1g, 8a), while Tommy Wingels has 11 points (4g, 7a) in his last nine.
*The 2014-15 Preds are off to the best 28-game start in franchise history and are the fastest Preds team to reach 40 points.
*Pekka Rinne’s 19 wins leads the NHL.
“We’re finding ways. It’s not pretty night in and night out. … We’re going to have to find different ways to win every single night.” – Logan Couture