A low scoring affair, but chances abound for both teams. In the end of the goalie duel between the Wild's Darcy Kuemper and the Sharks' Martin Jones, it was Kuemper raising his arms in victory after 60 minutes. Kuemper stopped all 25 shots he faced en route to his sixth career shutout.
Wild power play problems
The Wild coaching staff moved Jason Pominville up to the first power play unit to give a shooting threat on the left side where Granlund had played to start the season. The Wild finished the game 0-4 on the power play. Here's why:
In the second of a back-to-back, one in which the Wild let another overtime game get away from it in the desert, the Wild responded well with good legs to grind out a good victory in the Bay Area. It was another stingy defensive effort from the visitors. Minnesota only allowed 25 shots on goal and out-shot the Sharks in the third period 14-10.
Kuemper really tracked the puck well and used his big frame to his advantage to make a slew of big saves. He picked pucks out of the air with the glove, used his blocker to make stops, and even kept his right pad on the ice to stop a re-directed shot. He's really come on strong since coming in for Devan Dubnyk who's been out with a lower body injury. IF the Wild can trust its back-up goaltender to win games and steal victories, this tandem could very well help the Wild as it looks to get into the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.
Head coach Mike Yeo started the game with his normal line-up - the same that started the game in Arizona - but changed them around early in the game.
New #MNWild lines: Parise-Granlund-Pominville Vanek-Koivu-Coyle Zucker-Haula-Niederreiter Porter-Carter-Fontaine— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) December 13, 2015
Nino Niederreiter picked his game up in this one as he hasn't been right and scoreless in a long while now. Erik Haula maybe benefited most from these line changes. He seemed motivated playing with fellow speed-guy in Jason Zucker and skilled and sizable winger in Niederreiter. Haula was all over the ice - especially in the second period - making good, solid plays a creating chances.
Another line that looked good with plenty of chances was the line of Thomas Vanek, Mikko Koivu, and Charlie Coyle. That line combined for six shots on goal and 13 shot attempts. Vanek had some really great looks at the net, as did Coyle, but Martin Jones was very good on the night as well.
The game remained scoreless until the 4:41 mark of the third period when Mikael Granlund sent a pass to Parise, who was camped out alone in front of the goal crease. Parise was able to gather the rebound from his failed re-direction attempt and put it over the right pad of Jones. Mikko Koivu added an empty-netter with 34 seconds left in the game to secure the victory for the Wild.
The Wild penalty kill was extremely solid on the night as it pressured the Sharks into turnovers and were able to get the clear. The power play did fail to score on its only chance of the game. Ryan Suter and Parise led the way for the Wild in shots with each of them firing four shots on Jones. Ryan Suter played 30:19 of time on ice.
Minnesota ends a very good defensive effort with a victory as they hop on a plane headed for home and will play the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The Wild lost in a stinker the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 3-2 at Xcel Energy Center.