SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — If the Nashville Predators have any designs about catching Winnipeg in the Central Division race, they know there’s little margin for error down the stretch.
That’s why coming out with a road win against one of the top teams in the league was so important.
Filip Forsberg scored the tiebreaking goal with 12:58 left in the third period and Viktor Arvidsson added his second of the game into an empty net to help the Predators keep pace in the division race with a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
“It’s not in our division, but it’s huge,” Arvidsson said. “They played for something too, for clinching, and we needed this one. We really had to win this one to hang on in the race for the Central. I think we played a great game.”
Colton Sissons also scored and Juuse Saros made 24 saves to keep the Predators within one point of first-place Winnipeg in the division race. The Jets still have two games in hand.
“I think looking at our situation and where we want to go and where we want to get too you could put that under the biggest win of the season for sure,” forward Ryan Johansen said.
Timo Meier and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks, who failed for the second straight game in their bid to clinch a playoff spot with their first back-to-back home losses in regulation all season. San Jose also remained one point behind Calgary in the Pacific Division.
Martin Jones made 26 saves.
“It was a tough game tonight, it was hard fought,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “There wasn’t a lot of room out there, 2-2 going into the third, they found a way to get a goal and we didn’t. That happens, we’ve got to bounce back.”
Forsberg delivered the game-winner after the Predators won a faceoff following an icing call against San Jose. He pulled Jones out of the net and then scored on a wraparound that deflected off defenseman Tim Heed’s stick.
Arvidsson then sealed it with the empty-net goal for his 31st of the season in just his 49th game after missing time with a broken thumb.
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“It’s ridiculous,” Johansen said. “It’s too bad for him having that injury in the middle of the year because he could be doing something really special that not a lot of players in this league can achieve. … He just goes out there and works his butt off and gives you everything he has. We’re really lucky to have him in our group.”
The game between two of the top teams in the Western Conference was chippy at times with neither side willing to back down in what could be a playoff preview.
San Jose’s Micheal Haley got into a fight in the first period with Wayne Simmonds to set the tone. Thornton and Sissons were then both sent off for cross-checking midway through the second period and spent much of their time in the box chirping at each other.
Shortly after Thornton came out, he delivered the tying goal during 4-on-4 play when he got to the front of the net and knocked a pass from Brent Burns past Saros to make it 2-2.
The teams had traded goals earlier in the second, with Joe Pavelski setting up Meier for his 27th goal of the season to make it 1-1 and Arvidsson answering with his 30th just 24 seconds later.
The Sharks entered the day with the second-best goal differential in the first period at plus-23 but fell behind almost from the start against a Predators team that had been outscored by nine goals in the opening 20 minutes.
San Jose had a strong opening shift before Nashville answered on a three-on-two rush that led to Sissons taking a pass from Craig Smith and knocking it into an open net for his second goal in as many games.
NOTES: Johansen recorded his 400th career point with an assist on Forsberg’s goal. … Sharks F Evander Kane returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an injury and for personal time after his daughter, Eva, passed away last weekend during his wife’s 26th week of pregnancy. F Joonas Donskoi was scratched for the first time this season.
Nashville: Host Toronto on Tuesday.
San Jose: Host Vegas on Monday.
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