Sharks’ late push falls short as road trip ends on sour note

The San Jose Sharks on Tuesday were unable to finish their first long road trip of the season on a positive note.

Playing their fifth game in eight days, the Sharks were down a goal after the first 80 seconds of the opening period and were forced to chase the game from there in a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Timo Meier scored his fourth goal of the season at the 11:54 mark of the third period to cut the Predators’ lead to one. But the Sharks were unable to get a second goal against Predators goalie Juuse Saros, who had 28 saves to improve to 5-2-1 in eight career games against San Jose.

Six of Saros’ saves came on the penalty kill, as the Sharks are now 1-for-11 on the man advantage over the last four games after they were 4-for-9 in their first two.

Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville on goalie James Reimer as the Sharks finished the five-game road trip with a 3-2-0 record. San Jose started the trip with a regulation-time win over Montreal last Tuesday, followed by back-to-back victories over Ottawa and Toronto on Thursday and Friday, respectively, before losing to Boston on Sunday.

The Sharks host the Canadiens on Thursday to start a five-game homestand.

The Sharks were down 1-0 early in the first period.

With Nick Bonino serving a tripping penalty, Predators center Matt Duchene came through the neutral zone with speed, took a pass from Roman Josi, and fired a shot past Reimer at the 1:20 mark for his second goal of the season.

Tomas Hertl had a breakaway chance later in the first period, after a nifty pass from William Eklund, but was denied by Saros.

Eklund was back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the Sharks’ 4-3 loss to the Bruins on Sunday.

Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Tuesday morning that he wanted to see Eklund possess the puck a little more against the Predators than he had in earlier games. Eklund started Tuesday’s game on a line with Hertl and Kevin Labanc, and Boughner wanted to see that trio create more time in the offensive zone.

“I want to see his pace get back up there,” Boughner said. “I thought he hit a wall a little bit and slowed down, wasn’t playing as fast. We’ve had that chat. That’s part of his game. One of his assets is speed. So I want to see him playing fast.”

Eklund missed a shift toward the end of the second period and was on the fourth line at the start of the third with Alexander Barabanov and Jasper Weatherby.

The Sharks also had Rudolfs Balcers on a line with Bonino and Matt Nieto to start Tuesday, and Barabanov on the fourth line with Weatherby and Andrew Cogliano. Barabanov made his season debut Sunday and had one assist in 16 minutes of ice time.

NOTES: Bonino was playing in his first game back in Nashville since he was traded by the Predators to the Minnesota Wild in Oct. 2020. Bonino had 95 points in 219 games over three seasons for the Predators, helping the team reach the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, and the play-in round in 2020. Reimer came into Tuesday with a 7-1-0 record and a .928 save percentage in 10 career games against the Predators.

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