<
>

Solid defense helps Predators sink Sharks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz
knows why his team beat the San Jose Sharks even though they didn't
play the best hockey.

"We got great goaltending from Tomas Vokoun," Trotz said after
the Predators' 2-1 win Saturday night. "He was absolutely
spectacular in the last 1½ minutes. Tomas was the reason why we won
the hockey game."

Vokoun stopped 37 of 38 shots, staying in the game for the final
2 minutes despite taking a puck to his neck that sent him to the
ice for a couple of minutes.

"I have never taken a shot like that to my neck in a game,"
Vokoun said. "It was scary."

The way San Jose played also put some fear into the Predators,
though the Sharks have lost both trips to Nashville this season.

"San Jose did a lot of good things that took us out of our
game," Trotz said. "There were a lot of chances and a lot of
shots. You have to do certain things against San Jose and if you
refuse them you give up turnovers."

The Predators (7-0-0) are the only undefeated team in the
Western Conference. Ottawa (6-0-0) is the league's only other
perfect team.

"The effort was incredible," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said.
"I can't fault it. I feel like we played more than well enough to
win, but we didn't. We took a step in the right direction."

After a scoreless first period, both teams capitalized on
two-man power plays in the second.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead when Tom Preissing took a shot from the
right circle that bounced off Vokoun's pads and Jonathan Cheechoo
skated in from the left side and tapped the rebound in at the 3:17
mark.

Nashville tied the score just over 4 minutes later. Dan Hamhuis,
standing a few feet inside the blue line on the right side passed
the puck to Yanic Perrault low inside the right circle and
Perreault fired a shot that went between the legs of San Jose
goalie Vesa Toskala at 7:35.

Scott Hartnell then scored the winning goal 11:35 into the third
period. David Legwand fired a slap shot from a few feet inside the
blue line that bounced off the right leg pad of Toskala. Hartnell,
skating in from the left side, put the rebound in the net on
Toskala's stick side.

"Guys were out there taking the body," Hartnell said. "They
were sacrificing themselves to get chances. When you put the puck
on the net you never know where it is going to go."

Toskala finished with 28 saves.

Game notes
Nashville rookie defenseman Ryan Suter had an All-Star fan
club watching -- his father Bob, a member of the 1980 gold
medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, and his uncle Gary, a former NHL
star. . Starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov sat out his first game for
the Sharks.