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Sharks finally win at home

11/23/2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Back-to-back victories have given the
young San Jose Sharks new belief in their chances this season --
especially now that they've finally won at home.

Alyn McCauley scored the first goal and Patrick Marleau extended
his point streak to eight games in the Sharks' 3-1 win over the
Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

"It's frustrating not winning, especially at home," defenseman
Kyle McLaren said. "You kind of question yourself, `What's going
on? Why are we not winning at home? Is it us? Is it the ice?' It's
not the ice, I'll tell you that. I've seen worse ice than this."

Marco Sturm scored his sixth goal in six games and Vesa Toskala
saved 32 shots as San Jose held its opponents scoreless for nearly
149 minutes over three games.

Scott Hartnell scored midway through the third period for
Nashville, which lost for only the second time in six games.

The Sharks were the last NHL team without a home victory, going
winless (0-3-5-1) in their first nine games in HP Pavilion this
season. They hadn't won at home since beating the Detroit Red Wings
late last season -- a span of 240 days.

"The frustration of playing well and not winning is not
something that we have to think about anymore," said Sharks coach
Ron Wilson, whose team missed the playoffs last season for the
first time in five years. "We play well and now start to get some
results. A lot of little things we've been working on are coming
together."

Chris Mason stopped 29 shots for the Predators, who had won
three straight against the Sharks and three in a row on the road.
But Nashville failed on four power-play opportunities in the first
of four meetings between the teams this season.

Both goaltenders dominated until Mason allowed a long rebound on
McCauley's shot near the blue line late in the second period.
McCauley charged forward and beat Mason on the short side before
the goalie could recover. It was McCauley's eighth goal of the
season.

During a power play in the third period, Sturm took the puck off
the boards and scored his team-leading ninth goal on a similar play
to McCauley's score.

Sturm has goals in each of his last three games.

"When you're hot, you're hot," Sturm said. "Things are just
going in right now. I'm trying to shoot a lot because I know I'm
hot."

Toskala had a career-best scoreless streak of nearly 129 minutes
before Hartnell scored on a sharp cross-ice pass from David
Legwand. Toskala made 31 saves Friday in a 5-0 victory at Phoenix,
playing in relief of injured starter Evgeni Nabokov.

"We all have confidence in all our goalies," McLaren said.
"Nabby is our No. 1 goalie. Tosky is another guy who has done the
job, not only this year but also last year."

Marleau added an insurance goal, moments after Hartnell scored,
during 4-on-4 play. He caught the puck with his gloved hand in
front of the net and beat Mason with a backhand.

"Marleau's shot came in like a whale," Mason said. "He gets
goals because he buries it so hard."

The Predators used Mason in goal instead of Tomas Vokoun, who
started 13 straight games and has had his share of success against
San Jose.

Mason is still looking for his first NHL victory after eight
appearances.

"Hopefully one day I'll get that win," he said.

Game notes
Before the game, the Sharks recalled G Seamus Kotyk from
Cleveland of AHL to act as Toskala's backup while Nabokov recovers
from a strained groin. ... Both teams played back-to-back games,
and Nashville will play on consecutive nights 17 times this season
to 16 for the Sharks. ... Marleau tied a career-high with an
eight-game point streak, while Sturm has a six-game point streak,
also a career-best. ... The Predators placed RW Scott Walker on
injured reserve with a groin strain.