Sissons, Neal each score twice as Predators sink Sharks 7-2

A red hot Nashville Predators team made sure San Jose stayed ice cold.

Colton Sissons and James Neal both scored twice to lead the Predators over the staggering Sharks 7-2 on Saturday night.

Cody McLeod, P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight and six of seven. Craig Smith and Colin Wilson had three assists apiece to help the Predators move a point ahead of St. Louis for third place in the Central Division.

“Everybody keeps winning,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ”The area that we’re in in the standings, there’s not a lot of losing going on. We’re just trying to keep pace right now. These games are important.”

Pekka Rinne made 26 saves in winning his fifth consecutive start.

Patrick Marleau and Justin Braun scored for the Sharks, losers of six straight. They remained tied with Anaheim atop the Pacific Division.

San Jose allowed six goals in Friday night’s loss at Dallas.

”I thought we were much more competitive tonight,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”It was a step in the right direction. Every team goes through tough parts of the season and this is ours. We’ve got a lot of character in that room; we’ll get through it.”

Sissons scored the game’s first goal at 4:14 of the opening period.

Behind the San Jose net, Smith battled with Tomas Hertl and passed the puck off the back of the cage to Wilson on the left side. He made a spinning backhand pass to Sissons just outside the slot, and he beat Sharks goaltender Martin Jones with a backhand to the stick side.

”I was hopeful because we kind of caught each other’s eye and I saw him spinning around,” Sissons said about Wilson’s pass. ”I was just hoping that it would find my tape and it sure did.”

McLeod made it 2-0 at 15:19 of the first.

Roman Josi carried the puck up the left side. Inside the San Jose blue line, he went past Sharks defenseman Brent Burns near the left wall. From the left faceoff dot, Josi’s wrist shot deflected off Jones’ jersey and then the crossbar before landing on the goal line, where McLeod was there to tap it in for his fifth goal of the season.

”It’s a tough league when you are not executing little things,” Burns said. ”Everything just goes from there.”

Marleau cut the Nashville lead in half at 4:24 of the second with a power-play goal when he deflected Burns’ slap shot from the high slot by Rinne for his 26th of the season.

Nashville regained its two-goal lead 24 seconds later when Neal scored on the power play with a wrist shot from the left circle.

”Anytime you score right after a team scores, it definitely takes away from their momentum,” Neal said. ”Whether it’s on the power play or 5-on-5, it definitely kills their jump.”

Subban’s slap shot from the right wall made it 4-1 at 14:39. Braun concluded the second-period scoring at 16:19 when he beat Rinne from the left circle with a wrist shot to the stick side.

Sissons got his second of the game at 5:27 of the third on a deflection of Smith’s shot.

Smith has six assists over his last three games. Sissons has three goals in his last two games.

Neal added a power-play goal at 17:01 of the third, and Arvidsson scored short-handed with 37 seconds remaining.

Jones finished with 27 saves.

Sharks forward Logan Couture left late in the second after taking a deflected shot to the mouth. He did not return. DeBoer did not have an update on Couture’s condition after the game.

A chippy game got rough at the end. Calle Jarnkrok was assessed a minor penalty for boarding San Jose’s Micheal Haley at 12:56 of the third. Haley skated to Jarnkrok, grabbed his jersey and then punched him in the face. Jarnkrok left the ice bleeding from the face and did not return. Haley was given a match penalty for attempt to injure.

”When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer said.

NOTES: San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed the game due to an illness. … Sharks C Joe Pavelski played in his 800th NHL game. … Nashville C Mike Fisher missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. … Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey attended the game. … Rinne was honored by the NHL before the opening faceoff for playing his 500th career game on March 16.

All the other results from the Saturday’s NHL action:

Vancouver Canucks 4-2 Minnesota Wild
Philadelphia Flyers 0-1 Columbus Blue Jackets
Arizona Coyotes 1-4 Washington Capitals
Boston Bruins 2-1 New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs 2-5 Buffalo Sabres
Calgary Flames 3-2 St. Louis Blues
Chicago Blackhawks 0-7 Florida Panthers
Ottawa Senators 1-3 Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks 2-7 Nashville Predators
Colorado Avalanche 1-4 Edmonton Oilers
New York Rangers 3-0 Los Angeles Kings