The San Jose Sharks (19-6-5, 43 points) lost to the Minnesota Wild (18-9-5, 41 pts) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., by the final score of 3-1. This was the last game of San Jose’s four-game road trip and they ended it with a 1-3 record and are now on a three-game losing streak.
Inserted into the lineup today were Matt Nieto and Freddie Hamilton, who were both recently recalled from Worcester. Also, Antti Niemi got back between the pipes for the Sharks after Alex Stalock played in Friday’s loss to Carolina. Martin Havlat was one of those who was a healthy scratch today to make room for the call-ups.
Once again the Sharks ran into a brick wall for them known as the second period. They allowed two goals in that second stanza and once again after having a pretty good start to the game, even if they did not score. San Jose outshot the Wild 11-5 in the first period and 21-6 in the second, but just like their previous games outshooting your opponent means nothing if you can’t do anything with it.
Both second period goals from the Wild were nothing special and the first goal was a bit controversial as Zach Parise scored on a rebound with Niemi down and out after being run into by Jason Pominville when the San Jose goaltender stepped out to play the angle on the original shot. The officials even had a long conference about it but decided to let the goal stand.
In the third the Sharks got a big opportunity to get back into the game when they earned their fourth power play of the game with just under 14 minutes left in regulation. Unfortunately, just as it was throughout the entire game, the power play was completely ineffective.
After that the Wild pretty much went into prevent defense mode and were very effective at it. They held the Sharks to the perimeter very well and were getting in front of lots of shots. In fact they only allowed six shots on net in the final period, and that was a big reason why San Jose had trouble generating any sustained offense.
Arguably San Jose’s best chance of the period came on a mad scramble in front of the net with just over 3 minutes left in regulation. The play started with a harmless shot from a bad angle that went off of Wild goaltender Josh Harding‘s glove and then bounced in the crease for a little bit. It took a multitude of Wild defenders and a scrum in front to clear the puck from the front of the net.
The Sharks finally broke through on a Patrick Marleau goal with 1:41 left with Niemi out for an extra skater. Marleau’s goal came on a rebound after an Irwin shot from point. Marleau was in the right place at the right time on that rebound after he provided a screen on the original shot.
San Jose then pulled Niemi again shortly after getting the puck into Minnesota’s zone then called a timeout with 1:15 left in regulation. The Sharks then got a few more scoring chances but in the end couldn’t tie the game up. Instead, with less than 10 seconds left in the game, Parise scored his second goal of the game on an empty netter to seal the deal.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Josh Harding (37 saves)
2. Zach Parise (2 goals)
3. Mikko Koivu (1 goal)