NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Getting their first look at life without Logan Couture, the San Jose Sharks dropped a 3-2 decision Tuesday night to the Nashville Predators.
A late goal by Patrick Marleau made it a one-goal game with Joe Pavelski getting the earlier score for San Jose while David Legwand, Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi tallied for Nashville.
Couture, who is scheduled to undergo hand surgery Wednesday and miss the next three to four weeks, is the seventh San Jose forward out with injuries or the flu.
Without Couture, Sharks coach Todd McLellan had to figure out the best way to deploy his remaining Top Six forwards, and the game started with his top line of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns intact.
But he suggested before the game that might not last long, and by the second period Pavelski was skating alongside Marleau with Bracken Kearns moving onto the Thornton line.
Single-digit temperatures outside meant there were a lot of empty seats inside Bridgestone Arena and neither team did much to warm up the fans who did turn out in a scoreless first period.
Nashville's best scoring chance may have come in the first minute after Thornton was called for interference just 10 seconds into the game, but goalie Antti Niemi was able to get in front of a one-timer in the slot by Predators forward Mike Fisher.
The Sharks, in contrast, waited until the period's final minute for their best scoring chance when Marleau fired the puck from the bottom of the right faceoff circle but Nashville netminder Marek Mazanec made the save.
The Predators got on the scoreboard first when Craig Smith retrieved a puck that bounced hard off the corner boards and got it to Legwand who fired it past Niemi at 3:35 of the second period.
San Jose tied it up on a power-play goal at 6:49 when Pavelski skated into the slot and redirected a hard shot by Dan Boyle. But it was 1-1 for only 27 seconds as Ekholm scored his first goal of the season when he tipped a shot by Legwand into the Sharks net.
A little more than four minutes later, the Predators took a 3-1 lead when Josi's shot from the slot sailed over Niemi, who couldn't make the play with Nashville forward Colin Wilson on top of him. The goal was allowed to stand, however, with the officials apparently ruling that Marc-Edouard Vlasic pushed Wilson into the goalie.
With Niemi on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Marleau's goal at 18:38 made it close, but the Sharks were unable to pull even.
The Sharks finished their trip 1-2 and head home to play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
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