Special teams key Sharks' win vs. Wild
By Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
Minnesota 1 San Jose 3
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks straightened out their special teams for one night, especially the power play, and it meant the end of a losing streak.
Center Joe Pavelski scored two of San Jose's season-high three power-play goals as the Sharks snapped a four-game winless streak with a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
"Three is good, it won us a game tonight," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
The Sharks converted three of seven power-play chances, including two in the opening period. In addition, they snuffed out all three Minnesota power plays. The fact San Jose had that many man-advantage chances did not please Wild coach Mike Yeo.
"It must be nice to draw penalties like that," Yeo said. "To me that's embarrassing. I guess we've got to ask our players to embellish more."
Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 29 of 30 shots. His bid for a third shutout of the season and 26th of his career was denied at the 12:36 mark of the third period when Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin's shot from the middle of the blue line ricocheted off the chest of Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart and past Niemi.
"This is why I'm pissed off because our guys battled hard tonight and we didn't do enough," Yeo said.
As has been their habit of late, the Sharks ran out to an early 2-0 lead, converting two of four power-play chances in the opening period while outshooting the travel-weary Wild 16-9.
The Sharks led 16 of their 32 games 2-0, and 14 times that's been the score after 20 minutes.
Minnesota's march to the penalty box started early when at 5:14 right winger Justin Fontaine was called for a high stick on Stuart. It took the hosts just 40 seconds to convert when Pavelski's one-time shot from the left point sailed past a screen set in front of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom by left winger Patrick Marleau for his 11th goal.
Minnesota was on the verge of killing consecutive minors that included being short-handed by two men for two minutes when rookie left winger Tomas Hertl scored with four seconds left on a 5-on-4.
"Tomas was good, he showed more energy tonight than recently," McLellan said.
Brodin turned the pick over to right winger Tommy Wingels, who shoveled a short pass to Hertl, who punched his team-leading 15th goal from the slot past Backstrom at 14:43.
"That's not the way you want to start a game, we know they're a tough team to play at home," Minnesota right winger Jason Pominville said.
San Jose scored the only goal of the second period, again with the man advantage, which accounted for 18 of the team's 32 shots through two periods.
Minnesota center Zenon Konopka was sent off for a high-sticking double minor when in fact it appeared the stick of left winger Freddie Hamilton cut teammate defenseman Jason Demers instead of the Minnesota forward's stick.
"I don't remember the last time I high-sticked someone," Konopka said. "I told him they were making the wrong call, but what are you going to do? Of course they scored on it."
Pavelski netted his second power-play goal of the game and 13th goal of the season by pouncing on a rebound left on defenseman Matt Irwin's one-time drive from the left point at 3:42.
San Jose kept Minnesota off the board with a spirited late-period penalty kill that included two Sharks breaking sticks and somehow keeping the Wild at bay. It was Hertl's first career penalty that put the Sharks down a man.
"We've just got to keep on battling," Yeo said. "We just played a team that lost four in a row. Everyone goes through it."
NOTES: Sharks coach Todd McLellan reunited C Joe Pavelski with LW Matt Nieto and RW Tommy Wingels for the first time since the first 16 games of the season. San Jose went 10-1-5 while the third line was intact, but injuries and player movement necessitated moves since. ... RW Brett Bulmer, 21, was recalled from AHL Iowa and arrived in time from his flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, to play for the Wild. ... Minnesota C Mikael Granlund (concussion) was out. ... Injured RW Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), RW Adam Burish (back surgery) and D Scott Hannan (upper body) remain out for San Jose. ... The Wild complete a three-game trip Saturday in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche, while the Sharks embark on a three-game trip starting Saturday against the Nashville Predators. ... LW James Sheppard and C John McCarthy were healthy scratches for the Sharks, while LW Jason Zucker, LW Mike Rupp and D Nate Prosser did not dress for Minnesota.
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