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Throughout a roller-coaster season veering from winning streaks to losing streaks, there have been two constants for the San Jose Sharks the superb goaltending of Steve Shields and the scoring of Owen Nolan.

Shields stopped 22 shots Thursday night and Nolan scored his ninth goal of the season as the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak.

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  • Niklas Sundstrom scored twice for the Sharks, who began the season with a three-game winning streak before losing two straight. They then won four straight, then lost three in a row before Thursday.

    "This was kind of a must-win for us, we didn't want to lose another one," Sundstrom said. "I'm just trying to keep up with these guys and get some of the leftovers. But it doesn't matter who scores the goals, as long as we win."

    Patric Kjellberg and Sergei Krivokrasov scored for the Predators, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Goalie Mike Dunham took his first loss of the season, after winning his first four games.

    Shields, who had limited experience in three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded to the Sharks in June 1998, started this season as the backup to Mike Vernon. But he has taken over the No. 1 role by building a 7-3 record with a 2.01 goals-against average.

    "I thought I saw most of the shots. I don't remember giving up any bad rebounds,"Shields said. "We haven't been playing well, tonight was a little better. But we still need improvement in our work ethic. To beat anyone, we have to work hard."

    The Sharks opened the scoring with 4:21 left in the first period when Alexander Korolyuk centered a pass from behind the Nashville net to Sundstrom.

    The second San Jose goal came via the same combination, with Korolyuk providing the setup as Sundstrom got the 10th multi-goal game of his career. The goal by Sundstrom, who only had one goal this season before the game, came midway through the second period.

    Kjellberg knocked in the rebound of a shot by Cliff Ronning midway through the third period for the first Nashville goal.

    Nolan, who entered the evening atop the league in scoring with 17 points, scored from a tough angle on a power play two minutes later to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. The Sharks have a league-high 16 power-play goals this season and Nolan has six of them.

    "They made one play by their best scorer and that was the difference. That's what he gets paid to do, score goals," Ronning said. "That's why Nolan is the leading goal scorer, because he stands in front of the net and pays the price. At this level, it's often who can shovel it best."

    Krivokrasov pulled the Predators within a goal with 5:21 remaining in the third period when he poked a loose puck past Shields on a power play.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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