Left winger Zach Parise had a pair of goals and center Mikko Koivu
had another to supply the necessary offense, and goaltender Josh
Harding had 37 saves as the Wild beat the Sharks 3-1 on Sunday.
San Jose (19-6-5), which has now lost three in a row, outshot
Minnesota by a wide margin throughout, but could not find the back
of the net until less than two minutes remained. Harding improved to
13-1-0 at home this season for the Wild (18-9-5).
"With the year he's having, he's not sneaking up on anybody anymore.
He had a really good night," said Sharks coach Todd McClellan,
praising the Wild goalie. "I thought there were times where we
could've had better net presence. We thought we had to maybe score
on the third rebound, never mind the second one. He was that mobile
and agile. We got to a few of them with our goaltender pulled but it
was not enough."
The Wild, who had played perhaps their worst game of the season on
Friday in a lifeless 4-0 road loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets,
looked in need of a wakeup call for much of the first 40 minutes on
Sunday, but somehow emerged with a 2-0 lead.
"That performance in Columbus, we were flat. We were physically
tired, mentally tired. We just didn't have it," Parise said. "To
come back and win a game, then you go out and play some really
important games against some teams we're chasing in the standings,
you want to take care of what you've got to do at home. It was a
hard game, and that's a tough team to play against."
After a scoreless first period, Parise opened the scoring with his
second goal in the past three games early in the second.
As Wild right winger Jason Pominville was being checked into Sharks
goalie Antti Niemi, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella ripped a shot
from the blue line that hit bodies in front of the net. Parise
pounced on the rebound and scored with Niemi still trying to get in
After a lengthy conference among the on-ice officials — and
complaints of goalie interference from the San Jose bench — the
goal was allowed to stand.
"I think I was bumped," said Niemi, who finished with 10 saves and
fell to 16-5-5 this season. "I'm not sure where it happened or if
they did it on purpose or not, but it did affect the play for sure.
They thought it was outside the crease, and I'm not sure."
Koivu doubled the Minnesota lead five minutes later, taking a pass
from defenseman Jared Spurgeon and threading a long-range shot
through a crowd in front of Niemi and into the upper left corner of
[to top of second column]
It was a doubly frustrating second period for San Jose, which
not only allowed a pair of goals on just six shots by the Wild,
but could not solve Harding despite 21 shots of their own — one
shy of the most Minnesota had ever allowed in a single period at
"It felt like we were defending an awful lot tonight, that's for
sure," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Our execution wasn't good
enough. There were too many broken plays in the neutral zone,
too many turnovers in the neutral zone, allowing them to be able
to counter right back. We did a great job defending tonight; we
were really sharp in our zone."
The Sharks were 0-for-4 on the power play — a growing source of
"That's probably been the story for the last week," Sharks
captain Joe Thornton said. "Our power play has been sub-par.
Five-on-five we looked sharp and then we kind of gave them the
momentum when we were on the power play. Figure that out."
With Niemi on the bench for an extra attacker and less than two
minutes remaining, left winger Patrick Marleau scored for the
Sharks to make it 2-1, snapping in a rebound during a scramble
in front of Harding. Parise added an empty-net goal in the final
NOTES: Although the Sharks have not disclosed the nature of the
injury to RW Mike Brown, the team placed him on injured reserve.
Brown, who has two goals and an assist this season, missed the
previous two games. ... Good news and bad news for Wild rookie D
Matt Dumba. On Sunday he was a healthy scratch for the eighth
consecutive game, but he will be playing hockey over the
holidays, having been named to Team Canada for the IIHF World
Junior Championships, which start Dec. 26 in Sweden. ... Sharks
RW Martin Havlat was scratched on Sunday. The team did not
reveal whether the night off was for health or performance
reasons. Havlat, who spent two seasons with the Wild, had one
goal and no assists in his previous five games, and had limped
off the ice after blocking a shot in San Jose's last game. ...
After four straight on the road, the Sharks return home for
their next two, hosting the New York Islanders on Tuesday and
the Wild on Thursday. ... Minnesota, which will play seven of
its next eight on the road, opens a western swing on Wednesday
when the Wild visit the Anaheim Ducks.
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