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Nashville Predators hosting streaky San Jose Sharks

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The Nashville Predators host the San Jose Sharks in their first meeting of the 2013-14 NHL season Saturday, Dec. 14. Both recently ended losing streaks, but only one team is truly streaky.

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Nashville had one four-game losing streak while San Jose has had two at least that long already in the 2013-14 NHL season. The Predators had one hot streak wherein they won five of six, while the Sharks already had twice won at least six in a row.

Nashville better hope San Jose's win was not the beginning of another hot streak. This team has gone directly from hot to cold to hot and to cold again. If the pattern continues, there are five more wins on the way.

The pattern of contests between these teams in recent years is tight, low-scoring games. Last season, the Predators took the first two games, 2-1 in a road shootout and 1-0 at home. The first game was the first loss of the season for the Sharks, who won the last game on their ice, 2-1.

Nashville has a little more bad blood in this Western Conference rivalry, having lost to San Jose twice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2006 and 2007. However, there are bigger things at stake.

The Predators are only two points over .500, and that will not cut it in the Western Conference. They are more than four games back of a berth to the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and there are two other teams ahead of them that are outside that picture.

Meanwhile, the Sharks could move into first place in the Pacific Division with a win or wind up in third place with a loss. That is the difference between being at home for the first two rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and not getting home ice at all. They do not want to have to play their nemesis Los Angeles Kings four times on the road.

Both teams thus have a lot at stake, are trending in similar directions and last played on the same day. In those situations, the edge goes to the team with the better pictured personnel, though Nashville will be helped by not having to travel.

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