NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators are having their best season yet — and are nowhere near satisfied.
Ryan Ellis scored the go-ahead goal with 9:54 left and the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 Thursday night to set a franchise record with 111 points this season.
“This is just part of where we’re trying to get to,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think they understand that the more we win, the better chance we have to secure home ice. Playing in front of our fans and in our building is something we talked about. We want to get that done. We knew that was something that could be done tonight. The guys played hard for us.”
With their 50th victory, the NHL-leading Predators padded their lead to four points over Boston in the chase for their first Presidents’ Trophy. Nashville topped the mark of 110 points set in 2006-07 on a night where the franchise also notched its 100th consecutive sellout, a streak that started April 7, 2016, against the Sharks.
They also lead Winnipeg by seven points with five games remaining apiece in the Central looking for their first division title.
Forward Filip Forsberg said the defending Western Conference champs started the season with the goal of making the playoffs.
“Once we nailed that off, now we want to finish as high as we can,” said Forsberg, who had three assists. “Figure that the best season in Preds’ history is a good way to do it.”
Craig Smith and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Kyle Turris had a goal. Nick Bonino added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left for Nashville, which won the season series against San Jose 2-1.
Juuse Saros made 39 saves for the win, including stopping Logan Couture on a penalty shot with 1:53 left. The goalie also helped the Predators kill a penalty with 3:10 remaining with a flurry of stops.
“Oh my goodness,” center Ryan Johansen said of the Predators’ backup goalie. “He was phenomenal. I was pretty impressed being his teammate and watching him play. He was probably the reason we ended up winning that game. He just deserves, if not all, most of the credit.”
Couture, Brenden Dillon and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Sharks. San Jose snapped its nine-game point streak.
“It’s a tough place to win,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “We played hard and had some chances to get some points here tonight, just didn’t happen.”
Turris opened the scoring at 5:26 when he pounced on a rebound of P.K. Subban’s shot from the point, beating Martin Jones with a snap shot from the left circle. Ryan Johansen stole the puck near the blue line, and he and Forsberg had nobody in front of them but Jones. Arvidsson scored off the pass from Forsberg for his team-leading 29th goal this season midway through the first.
Couture took advantage of Evander Kane in front of Saros to score on a wrist shot at 6:55 that went over the goalie’s right shoulder. Dillon tied it at 2 at 12:05 with a shot from the point over Saros’ right shoulder off the crossbar.
Smith put the Predators up 3-2 at 10:38 of the second with a wrister from in front that slipped under Jones’ left pad.
For all the Predators’ success, their biggest issue has been the power play. They came in 3 of 44 since March 1 and went 0 of 5 against the Sharks, which included 41 seconds of a 5-on-3. Rookie Eeli Tolvanen, who signed his three-year entry-level contract earlier Thursday , could help when he makes his highly anticipated debut, likely Saturday night.
Boedker beat Saros with a wrist shot at 5:54 of the third.
Ellis put the Predators ahead to stay with a slap shot after the puck bounced out to him off a shot attempt by Forsberg.
NOTES: The Predators are 66-21-13 during their current sellout streak. ... Nashville also matched its top mark for wins in a single month with 11. The Predators won 11 in March 2010 and January 2012.
Sharks: Visit the Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Predators: Host Buffalo on Saturday night.
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