The San Jose Sharks came to town looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games against a tough opponent in the Minnesota Wild. The Wild were looking to bounce back after being shut out 1-0 in their last game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since a stretch of 3 consecutive losses between November 26th and December 2nd. The Wild’s stingy defense would hold the Sharks at bay and lead the Wild to victory by a 3-1 margin, ending the Sharks streak and maintaining the Wild’s ability to not lose consecutive games even further.
The opening 15 minutes of the 1st period were mostly dominated by the Wild as the Sharks looked a step behind. As the Wild were applying the pressure, looking to breach the defenses of the Sharks and Martin Jones in goal, Christian Folin would go into the boards hard, and awkwardly, and with the assistance of Kevin Labanc who would go to the penalty box for boarding. Folin would go off the ice and not return to the game, clutching his wrist as the trainers helped him back to the dressing room.
The ensuing power play for the Wild would put them up on top and get the scoring started for tonight’s contest. Ryan Suter would feed the puck over to Jason Pominville. Down in front of the goal Zach Parise feverishly tapping his stick on the ice, Pominville fed him the puck and he redirected it between his legs, as well as between the legs of Jones and put the Wild up 1-0 with a power play goal.
About 4 minutes later the Wild would extend their lead when Matt Dumba found a puck down in the corner, spun around and fired a pass out to Eric Staal who was able to beat Jones on the far side from the right circle. Just a heck of a play from Dumba to get the puck blindly to Staal on this one, and Staal saw all kinds of daylight around Jones and made no mistake to put the Wild up 2-0 in the opening period.
The Sharks would answer this one back however just a couple minutes later. It was quite a pretty play actually, Devan Dubnyk didn’t have a chance at getting in front of this one. Justin Braun would skate the puck below the end line and feed the puck behind the net to Micheal Haley. Haley would one touch the puck out front to where Melker Karlsson had sneaked in on the weak side and he tapped the puck home.
The period would end with Joe Pavelski going off for a double minor for high-sticking Jonas Brodin square in the mouth. Most of his penalty would be served in the 2nd period. The Wild would be unable to convert on the double-minor. While the 1st PP unit got some decent chances to start the 2nd period, the 2nd unit wasn’t finding much success and the team would finish with just 1 shot on goal in the 4 minutes.
Much of the 2nd period would be spent with some real back and forth hockey. The Wild’s defense was playing stellar as the bend but don’t break mentality we saw for much of the first half of their 12-game winning streak seemed to make an appearance. The Wild allowed few shots on goal, and the ones that did get through were coming from the outside and Dubnyk had easy eyes on all of it. Dubnyk’s rebound control was also on point this evening, at times even directing rebound like a pass to the defense to get the team pushing back up ice.
The Wild would kill off a pair of penalties in the 2nd period as well, pushing their streak of consecutive penalties killed to 21. They still aren’t coming close to the Washington Capitals of the 99-00 season who killed a record 53 consecutive penalties, but the streak is definitely impressive in it’s own right.
The Wild would tighten their defense even further in the 3rd period, only allowing the trailing Sharks 5 shots on goal in the 3rd frame and just 21 shots on goal for the game. Stingy doesn’t begin to describe the defense for the Wild tonight. Nobody on the Sharks roster had more than 2 shots on goal besides Brent Burns, who eclipsed the rest with 6 shots on goal, nearly 30% of their team total on the day. Eric Staal would score his 2nd goal of the game after the Sharks had pulled Jones and that would seal the deal for the Wild who go on to win by a score of 3-1.
Next up for your Minnesota Wild, we welcome back an old friend or two as the Wild will welcome Kyle Brodziak and former head coach Mike Yeo of the St. Louis Blues to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Tuesday night. For Yeo, it will be his first trip to Minnesota as the Head Coach of the Blues after taking the reings when Ken Hitchcock was canned near a month ago.