The road to the playoffs just got a bit tougher for the Nashville Predators. And now they hit the road, seeing if they can overcome their latest hurdle.

Sitting seven points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Predators travel to San Jose Thursday night for the first of eight road games over a nine game span. And they will take the ice without top-line center Ryan Johansen, who is out for the foreseeable future.

Johansen reportedly had emergency surgery on Wednesday after Quinn Hughes’ skate appeared to clip the back of his right leg the night before in Nashville’s 5-4 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks. Johansen was seen leaving the arena on crutches with his right foot in a walking boot.

“It didn’t look good,” coach John Hynes said.

The injury took some of the joy from the Predators’ much-needed victory. They have won two of three games but have a 3-4-0 mark in their last seven outings.

The Predators weren’t thrilled with their performance, however. Nashville relinquished a 4-2 lead in the final 67 seconds of regulation before Matt Duchene’s shootout winner made the difference.

“Bottom line, I think what we take out of this game is that we did not play our best game,” forward Mikael Granlund said. “We still found a way to get those two points, but if we want to really make a little push here we need to be able to find a way to play a better game and that’s all that matters. But we got those two points and we’ll move on to the road trip from here.”

The Sharks, who are all but mathematically eliminated and figure to be sellers as the March 3 trade deadline nears, are coming off a 4-0 win over the Seattle Kraken on Monday.

Snapping a three-game losing skid provided some positive emotions for a team that has struggled through a disappointing season.

“It’s a good feeling that you can play spoiler a little bit,” said goaltender James Reimer, who collected his second shutout of the season with a 26-save performance in his first game after missing seven due to illness. “(Seattle is) a talented team, they’re a hardworking team. We played a suffocating, aggressive style of play and just didn’t allow them to get anything going.”

Their victory all the more impressive because the Sharks were without two of their top offensive forwards in Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl. Hertl missed the game due to the birth of a child, and is expected to play against the Predators. But Meier — who is the subject of plenty of trade rumors — is questionable due to an upper-body injury.

“It’s good to see that we can step up our game when we need to,” coach David Quinn said. “From the get-go we were on our toes. From top to bottom, I really liked our effort.”

While the season has been a struggle for the Sharks, the last couple of weeks have been pretty good for Evgeny Svechnikov. The 26-year-old forward has stepped into a bigger role of late and responded with three goals in his past five games after netting four in his first 37 games.

–Field Level Media