The Minnesota Wild (18-10-2) shut out the San Jose Sharks (13-11-6) by the final of 2-1 behind a strong performance by Nikas Backstrom. Special teams ended up being the difference and the Sharks’ scoring woes seemed to be in full effect this afternoon.
As I said, special teams was the difference as the Minnesota Wild scored on a power play chance in the third as well as right after an expired one earlier on in the game in the second. On the other side of the ice the Sharks went zero for four on the power play and were unable to take advantage of their scoring opportunities when they arose.
In the first period the Wild controlled play throughout and outshot the Sharks 10-6 although neither team was able to score. The Sharks were able to kill a double-minor for high-sticking against Brent Burns which was part of the reason the San Jose offense could not get into a rhythm all period.
San Jose’s best chance actually came just about three minutes into the game when Andrew Desjardins was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down on a breakaway. Niklas Backstrom made the save though and kept the game scoreless.
In the second period Minnesota finally broke through just as a power play expired when Zach Parise scored his 12th goal of the season off of a great feed across the box from Mikko Koivu. The secondary assist was awarded to defensemen Ryan Suter.
Throughout the second period play was much more even with both teams getting great scoring chances, but once again neither team was able to break through aside from the Wild even strength goal.
In the third period the Sharks were definitely the stronger team outshooting Minnesota 19-5 but in the end was not enough. In fact, Minnesota was able to extend their lead on the power play when Jared Spurgeon scored from near the blue-line with a shot that looked like Niemi could have stopped. Both Koivu and Suter picked up their second assists in the game.
From there on out it was Niklas Backstrom who kept San Jose off the board as he earned his first shutout of the season. He and the Minnesota Wild took the 2-0 victory and more importantly two more points in the tight playoff race. Meanwhile, the Sharks’ inconsistent play continues to plague them with no end in site.
My 3 Stars
1. Niklas Backstrom (33 saves, 1st shutout of season)
2. Ryan Suter (2 assists)
3. Mikko Koivu (2 assists)