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Sharks win 6th straight
SJ knocks off Minnesota in spirited affair
4/3/13 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks continued their "make a trade, win a game" strategy on Wednesday night, by knocking off the Minnesota Wild 4-2 after acquiring public enemy number one Raffi Torres, and former Shark defenseman Scott Hannan at the NHL trade deadline earlier in the day. The Sharks also avenged four straight losses to the Wild by turning in a spirited performance against the Northwest Division leaders.

The victory also helped San Jose move past Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings, and are even in points with Vancouver and the Wild. Minnesota holds the 3rd seed by virtue of being a division leader, and Vancouver holds the tie breaker over San Jose with two more regulation plus overtime wins. If the season were to end today, the Sharks would matchup with the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs.

Wednesday night's game had all the flavor of a playoff contest, including flaring tempers at the end of the contest that will certainly play into the series finale between the two teams on April 18th.

The Sharks jumped out to an early lead when Martin Havlat scored 1:34 into the game. The former Wild forward capitalized on a strong forecheck from teammate Brent Burns, who pinched deep into the Wild one to retain possession and hand the puck to Joe Thornton who setup the goal with a feed to the slot.

A Kyle Brodziak hooking penalty two minutes later, followed by a delay of game penalty by Clayton Stoner setup the Sharks net goal. Dan Boyle gathered the puck deep in his zone, skated coast-to-coast, undressed Wild defenseman Ryan Suter with a nasty move at the blueline, then added another shimmy to fool Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom before depositing his 6th goal of the season.

The Wild turned up the heat in the 2nd period, and struck with a pair of goals 25 seconds apart.

Former Sharks prospect Charlie Coyle was the beneficiary of a strong play by Zach Parise, who carried the puck up the right wing and tried jamming it past Antti Niemi on the right post. Niemi denied Parise, but the puck trickled into the crease, where Coyle cleaned up by tapping it home.

Dany Healtey tied the game at 2-2 moments later after Thornton turned the puck over in the Sharks zone. Heatley snared the idle puck, spun to his left and fired a 30-foot shot that beat Niemi. Defenseman Brad Stuart screened his own goaltender while covering space in front of the net. Heatley's shot caught the inside of the right post for his 11th goal of the season.

Stoner's night got tougher. Thornton pushed the Sharks back out front with a shot from the left wing boards that caught the Wild defenseman in the skate, redirecting into the Wild net for Thornton's 7th goal of the season.

The slim deficit motivated the Wild to make another push in the 3rd period, which resulted in 18 shots on net. One of those chances came on a Torrey Mitchell short-handed breakaway chance that missed when Niemi denied the former Shark forward with 10 minutes to play.

T.J. Galiardi converted on a Justin Falk slashing penalty earlier in the period, by sliding home a backhand feed from Havlat. Galiardi parked himself on the right post, and simply poking home the pass for his 1st power play goal since 2009.

Minnesota put 18 pucks on net, aided by a late hooking penalty to James Sheppard. The Wild pulled Backstrom with 50 seconds to play for the extra attacker, but Niemi and the Sharks defense withstood a flurry of shots to win by two.

Things turned sour late when Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Heatley mixed it up after the final horn. Heatley took a two handed swing at Vlaisc, missing the Sharks defenseman who responded with a slash of his own. Vlasic wrestled Heatley to the ice, but refrained from taking any more liberties while the Wild forward lay face down on the ice. Heatley immediately skated to the bench, clutching his left arm while in obvious discomfort.

Vlasic was assessed a 5-minute major for slashing and a 10 minute misconduct. Neither Torres or Hannan were able to get to San Jose in time for the game, but both are expected to be suited up for Friday's game against the Calgary Flames.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MIN 0 2 0 2
SJ 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Havlat 5 (Thornton, Burns), 1:34. 2, SJ, Boyle 6 (unassisted), 5:19, (pp).
2nd period - 3, MIN, Coyle 5 (Parise, Brodin), 10:33. 4, MIN, Heatley 11 (Falk), 10:58. 5, SJ, Thornton 7 (Burns), 14:42.
3rd period - 6, SJ, Galiardi 2 (Havlat, Gomez), 6:55, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Brodziak, MIN (hooking), 3:55; Stoner, MIN (delay of game - puck over glass), 5:02.
2nd period - Stoner, MIN (high sticking), 0:50.
3rd period - Clutterbuck, MIN (hooking), 5:34; Falk, MIN (slashing), 6:13; Marleau, SJ (cross checking), 6:13; Suter, MIN (high sticking), 8:20; Sheppard, SJ (hooking), 19:06; Heatley, MIN (roughing), 20:00; Vlasic, SJ (slashing major), 20:00; Vlasic, SJ (10 minute misconduct), 20:00; Stuart, SJ (hooking), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MIN - Backstrom 33 29
SJ - Niemi 33 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 6 9 18 33
SJ 10 11 12 33
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 1
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Brent Burns
T. J. Galiardi
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Kimmerly, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Gibbs, McElman.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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