NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Todd McLellan was fuming, pacing the corridors around the visiting locker room at Bridgestone Arena.

His Sharks had just lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night with the winning goal by Predators defenseman Roman Josi sailing over Antti Niemi as the Sharks goalie was all but pinned underneath Nashville forward Colin Wilson.

The second-period goal was allowed to stand, and McLellan and his players were not buying the explanation from referee Mike Hasenfratz that Marc-Edouard Vlasic had pushed Wilson into Niemi.

"That's a blown call," McLellan said. "Even if there was a touch of contact there, you're not allowed to jump on top of the goaltender. We all know that."

Nashville Predators forward David Legwand (11) celebrates a goal by teammate Mattias Ekholm, not shown, against the San Jose Sharks in the second period of
Nashville Predators forward David Legwand (11) celebrates a goal by teammate Mattias Ekholm, not shown, against the San Jose Sharks in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Defending for the Sharks are Joe Pavelski (8) and Matt Irwin (52). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (Mark Humphrey)

The sense of déjà vu compounded McLellan's aggravation as this was the fourth time this season that a call had gone against the Sharks on such plays.

The Sharks had apparent goals waved off when they were cited for goalie interference in similar circumstances against the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets; a similar goal by the Minnesota Wild also was allowed to stand.

"That's one in every 11 games." McLellan said. "I understand mistakes because I make a lot of them behind the bench. But when you get an explanation from a group of people, and it didn't happen, it's disappointing. It really is disappointing."

McLellan wasn't the only one bothered by the call. Vlasic declined to meet with the media -- the explanation being that he didn't want to say something after a tough loss that he might regret later.

Niemi said he didn't protest the call because the referee indicated immediately that it was a good goal.

"I didn't even ask, because I thought they saw the play, and it seemed like he wouldn't change it anyway," the goalie said.

A goal by Patrick Marleau with 82 seconds left in the game narrowed the gap to one, with Joe Pavelski getting the earlier score for San Jose. David Legwand and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville.

The game was the Sharks' first without Logan Couture, who is scheduled to undergo hand surgery Wednesday, and McLellan seemed disappointed in his team's performance as well as the referee's call.

"I didn't think we were good enough," McLellan said, noting that the team's leadership group -- including the coaching staff -- needs to step up. "Your captains and assistants ... they have to show up and play at an elite level. We weren't at that level tonight."

Without Couture, McLellan had to figure out the best way to deploy his remaining top six forwards, and the game started with his usual first line of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns intact.

But McLellan 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.

Players understood that's what the future holds as San Jose now has seven forwards injured or battling the flu.

"We're just going to have to get used to each other in practice and just try to get better as a threesome," Thornton said. "But we're all professionals. We should be able to adjust on the fly like that."

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.

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 on a power-play goal at 6:49 when Pavelski dropped the puck to Dan Boyle, then skated into the slot and deflected the hard shot that followed. But it was 1-1 for only 27 seconds as Ekholm scored his first goal of the season by tipping a shot by Legwand into the Sharks' net.

A little more than four minutes later, the Predators took a 3-1 lead on Josi's disputed goal as he carried the puck behind the San Jose net and into the slot where he fired away.

The Sharks finished their trip 1-2 and headed home to play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

Thursday's game

Detroit (19-14-10) at Sharks (27-11-6), 7:30 p.m., CSNCA

INSIDE

Canada selects Sharks' Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic for Olympic team. PAGE 4