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Backstrom and penalties stop Sharks surge
Wild shuts out SJ at Xcel Energy Center
11/2/10 - By Mike Lee -

Mamma said there would be days like this. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but the Sharks had no answers for Niklas Backstrom and the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night as they kicked off an abridged two game road trip with a 1-0 loss in Minneapolis. After the Sharks scored 5 goals in back to back games, they were expected to breeze past one of the most anemic offenses in the NHL.

The Wild didn’t do much to break out of their offensive doldrums, but a single goal was all it would take on a night when Backstrom would stop all 36 shots thrown his way. The Wild goaltender played a straight up style that suppressed the Sharks big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, who combined for a paltry 6 shots on goal.

The Sharks didn’t do themselves any favors by taking a steady stream of penalties throughout the evening. Any attempt to build some momentum would be squelched by an untimely penalty. San Jose would earn nine trips to the penalty box for minor infractions. Pretty difficult to establish any flow if you’re playing a third of the game down a man.

Doing that against the league’s top ranked power play unit was tantamount to playing with fire. You could say the Sharks did an admirable job considering they only surrendered a single goal in nine chances against a team that had converted on 30% of their power play chances.

San Jose dominated the shot clock in the opening period 11-3, but couldn’t figure out how to get a puck past Backstrom.

Failing to put any rubber past Backstrom and some ill-timed penalties in the 2nd period would decide the game. Sharks rookie left winger John McCarthy took a double minor for cutting Chuck Kobisew with a high stick. Martin Havlat would make matters worse by baiting referee Brian Pochmara into issuing a hooking penalty to Torrey Mitchell after he held Mitchell’s stick.

Andrew Brunette would score the game’s only goal on a one-time change from the outside the left post, after Havlat sent a pass through the crease from the right corner. Because the goal was scored before McCarthy’s first minor expired, the Sharks were still forced to kill off an additional 79 seconds of 5-on-3 time.

Antero Niittymaki would deny the Wild form cashing in any further on the two-man advantage by denying any big rebounds when Minnesota sent pucks on net. The overall outcome was unfair to Niittymaki who turned in another solid performance, stopping 15 of the 16 shots he would face.

San Jose would get a scare when Thornton was tripped by Nick Schultz as he skated past the Minnesota net, which sent him sprawling into the end boards. Thornton would lay on the ice, writhing in pain, but he was able to skate back to the bench and would return later in the period.

Even with the power play chance, the Sharks would find a way to kill their own momentum. This time Dan Boyle would get called for tripping. That, combined with Backstrom’s miserly attitude to allowing pucks into his net would keep the Sharks from challenging the Minnesota lead.

The Minnesota netminder would deny the Sharks from drawing even by stopping 16 shots in the final period to make the Wild’s slim lead hold up.

San Jose looked to pull Niittymaki for the extra attacker, but a Jason Demers interference penalty with 46 seconds remaining in regulation would prevent the Sharks from mounting a last ditch effort to tie things up.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
MIN 0 1 0 1
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, MIN, Brunette 3 (Havlat, Koivu), 13:19, (pp).
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Murray, SJ (goaltender interference), 4:39; Falk, MIN (interference), 12:53; Pavelski, SJ (holding), 18:45; Koivu, MIN (tripping), 19:15.
2nd period - Zanon, MIN (slashing), 2:20; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 5:06; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 5:06; Falk, MIN (roughing), 5:06; Burns, MIN (goaltender interference), 7:10; McCarthy, SJ (high sticking – double minor), 11:27; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 12:38.
3rd period - Setoguchi, SJ (holding), 5:33; Schultz, MIN (tripping), 10:51; Boyle, SJ (tripping), 12:29; Demers, SJ (interference), 19:14.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niittymaki 16 15
MIN - Backstrom 36 36
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 9 16 36
MIN 3 6 7 16
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
MIN 1 of 9
3 Stars of the Game
Niklas Backstrom
Miko Koivu
Dan Boyle
Attendence
16,502
Officials
Referees: Pochmara, VanMassenhoven. Linesmen: Brisebois, Pancich.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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