Wild close trip in San JoseMar 17, 2011 - 3:23 PM
The Wild have been outscored 12-2 over the first three games of this residency, getting shut out in back-to-back games by the Predators and Stars before losing Monday's contest in Vancouver, 4-2. With just 12 games remaining, Minnesota is four points back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Captain Mikko Koivu returned on Monday from an 11-game absence caused by a broken finger, setting up Andrew Brunette's tally while also lighting the lamp himself. However, all three of the goals Niklas Backstrom allowed on 21 shots came in the first period.
"It wasn't a good start for us or Backstrom," said Minnesota head coach Todd Richards. "He had a rough first period, but then he held down the fort and gave us a chance to come back."
In addition to Koivu's return, Cal Clutterbuck also came back from a four-game absence due to a concussion, while Clayton Stoner played for the first time in four games due to an abdominal ailment. However, Guillaume Latendresse, Cam Barker and Marek Zidlicky are all questionable due to injury.
Minnesota had won its first two games versus San Jose this year after a five- game series losing streak, but was bested by a 4-3 margin at HP Pavilion on Jan. 22. The Wild have lost three straight and seven of their last eight at the Sharks, who have won 14 of the past 18 meetings overall.
San Jose snapped an 0-1-2 slide on Tuesday with a 6-3 victory at Dallas. Joe Thornton and Heatley both capped two-goal games by scoring into an empty net in the game's final 1:08.
The Sharks won't have Heatley's services tonight, though, after the forward was suspended for two games by the league on Wednesday due to an elbow to the head of the Stars' Steve Ott.
Torrey Mitchell and Ryane Clowe also tallied in the third period and Joe Pavelski notched a career-best four assists for the Sharks, who improved to 19-4-3 in their past 26 games and lead the Kings and Coyotes by three points for the Pacific's top spot.
Antti Niemi stopped 34-of-37 shots in his 26th straight start.
"It was just a good win," Thornton said. "We feel like we're never out of a game."
Niclas Wallin left Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight.
The Sharks will play their next three at home as they return to the HP Pavilion for the first time since a 3-1-2 residency from March 1-12.
Niemi has won both of his previous career starts versus the Wild, stopping 44- of-47 shots faced, while Backstrom is 4-8-3 with a 3.03 GAA versus the Sharks.
- Chuck Kobasew wrist shot on Antti Niemi.
Wild 2, Sharks 3 3rd - 14:18Mar 18 12:31 AM
- MINNESOTA: 2
SAN JOSE: 2
End of 2nd
Mar 18 12:05 AM
- Minnesota Goal - Kyle Brodziak (16), from Martin Havlat at 13:23.
Wild 2, Sharks 2 2nd - 6:37Mar 17 11:52 PM
- San Jose Goal - Logan Couture (27), from Douglas Murray and Jason Demers at 11:33.
Wild 1, Sharks 2 2nd - 8:27Mar 17 11:49 PM
- MINNESOTA: 1
SAN JOSE: 1
End of 1st
Mar 17 11:13 PM
- Minnesota Short-Handed Goal - John Madden (12), at 14:53.
Wild 1, Sharks 1 1st - 5:07Mar 17 11:03 PM
- San Jose Goal - Jamal Mayers (3), from Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell at 11:29.
Wild 0, Sharks 1 1st - 8:31Mar 17 10:56 PM
- MINNESOTA: 0
SAN JOSE: 0
1st Period - 20:00
Mar 17 10:38 PM
- Hitchcock hedges on lineup for Game 5 vs. Sharks May 23
- Sharks-Blues Preview May 23
- Blues sticking with Allen in Game 5 against Sharks May 22
- Canada beats Finland 2-0 to win world hockey championship May 22
- Blues beat Sharks 6-3 to even series at 2 games apiece May 21
- Blues hope goalie change can slow down Sharks top line May 21
- Blues-Sharks Preview May 20
- Blues to make goalie change for Game 4 against Sharks May 20
- Blues-Sharks Preview May 20
- BC-AP Sports Preview Digest May 20
- Jones' 2nd shutout gives Sharks 2-1 series lead over Blues May 20
- US beats Czechs at worlds to set up semifinal with May 19