for this game

Predators hope to stay in win column vs. Sharks

Mar 12, 2015 - 2:48 PM ( - The Nashville Predators will try to keep heading in the right direction when they continue a four-game road trip with Thursday's battle against the San Jose Sharks.

Nashville had lost six straight -- all in regulation -- before ending its worst losing streak of the season with Monday's 2-1 overtime win in Arizona. It was the first win for the Predators, who lead the Central Division with 91 points, since beating a visiting Colorado club on Feb. 24.

The victory kicked off the current swing on a positive note and improved Nashville's road record to 16-12-6. The Preds will visit Los Angeles on Saturday before completing the trip Sunday in Anaheim.

James Neal scored the deciding goal 2:45 into OT, ending his goal-scoring drought at nine games.

"It's all about how you respond and come back," said Neal. "Our next step is to move on to the next game and be even better."

Paul Gaustad scored during regulation and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Predators, who lead St. Louis by two points for the Central lead. The Blues host Philadelphia on Thursday.

Nashville also is tied with the Ducks for the Western Conference lead at 91 points. The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers also have 91 points in a close battle for the Presidents' Trophy.

San Jose has won three of its last four games, but still is outside the playoff picture in the West, where it sits four points behind Minnesota for the final wild card spot.

The Sharks also sit five points behind Calgary for the third and final automatic playoff bid in the Pacific division.

San Jose recorded a shootout win Monday night against Pittsburgh after opening a four-game homestand with Saturday's regulation loss to Vancouver.

Tommy Wingels netted the winner in the eighth round of the shootout to help the Sharks edge the Penguins. 2-1. Both sides registered successful shots in the third round, then came up empty through the seventh. Wingels opened the final round with a backhander against Marc-Andre Fleury, then Steve Downie failed to solve Antti Niemi to end the contest.

"Guys were excited," said Wingels. "Maybe a win like that injects some life into our team. Let's keep going."

Matt Nieto tallied in regulation for the Sharks, while Niemi finished with 39 stops.

San Jose has not fared well on home ice this season, going 16-15-5 at the Shark Tank.

The Preds have claimed four of five and eight of their last 11 encounters versus the Sharks overall. San Jose has won two of three and seven of the past 11 meetings in Northern California.

Rinne will likely get the call for Nashville tonight and is 8-4-4 with a 1.88 goals against average in his career against San Jose. Niemi is 7-6-3 with a 2.13 GAA in 16 lifetime starts versus the Predators.