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Sharks weather a Wild storm
Pavelski's 15th saves Sharks
12/11/14 - By Mike Lee -

With the skies above San Jose opening up all day Thursday, it was fitting that they would have to weather a constant stream of pressure from a team that's fighting to get its season on track. Sitting just 3 points behind the Sharks in the Western Conference standings, the Minnesota Wild tried to match the 4-3 win they enjoyed over San Jose back on October 30th in Minneapolis. The Sharks had other ideas, as they skated to their 5th straight win on home ice by dispatching Minnesota 2-1.

With 4 games in hand no San Jose, the Sharks had to win this game in regulation to help defend their slim lead over the Wild. They did that by scoring first, then responding to a big 3rd period goal by Minnesota.

Countering when the opposition ties the game in the 3rd period has been an issue for the Sharks early in the season, so it was imperative for them to stand up to Minnesota.

Nino Niederreitter setup a Sharks power play by cross checking Justin Braun at 7:29 of the opening period. The Sharks special teams unit did little to take advantage of the man-advantage. The Wild had the best scoring chance during the two minute span, when Kyle Brodziak pumped a shot off the crossbar.

The Wild had their own chance on the power play late in the period after Brenden Dillon was sent off for cross checking Niederreitter. The Wild entered the game 1-for-42 on the power play while on the road. That was evident by the discombobulated attack the Wild threw out on the ice. They mustered zero shots on the chance.

With goals at a premium, the Sharks were playing with fire, giving up a series of odd-man rushes to Minnesota. The Wild had a golden opportunity to score 8 minutes into the 2nd period, but Logan Couture hustled back to interfere with a solid back-check to deny Zach Parise from depositing a puck into a wide open net.

San Jose finally found a crack in the Wild defense after Nate Prosser was sent off for interference on Tommy Wingels at 13:56 of the period. Brent Burns cranked a shot on the ensuing power play from the left point that slipped past Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The shot appeared to hit Keumper's pad and slip between the netminder's glove hand after he dropped to butterfly his pads.

With the secondary assist on the Burns goal, Joe Thornton tied Jean Beliveau for 39th on the all-time scoring list with 1,219 points. The Canadiens legend passed away last week and was laid to rest in a casket that was adorned with a Canadiens flag during funeral services.

After scoring a franchise record 4 goals in the 3rd period to come from behind against the New York Islanders, the Wild were poised to make a run against the Sharks lone goal lead. They took the first step 63 seconds into the final frame when Christian Folin scored his 1st NHL goal off a Sharks turnover. Tommy Wingels tried existing the defensive zone with a diagonal pass from the left corner that eluded Patrick Marleau. Folin stepped up from his position at the point and rifled a shot that slipped past Alex Stalock and the right post.

The Sharks did what the Islanders could not in responding quickly. Thornton moved passed Beliveau with a pass from the right wing boards that found Joe Pavelski on the off wing for a one time chance that zipped past Kuemper 45 seconds after Folin's goal. Pavelski uncorked his shot with a knee on the ice for his 15th tally of the season.

Rookie Melker Karlsson put the Sharks in a precarious position by hooking Ryan Suter at 4:31 to put the Wild on the power play. The saving grace was a determined penalty kill and the league's worst road power play which failed again to generate any shots on goal.

Kyle Brodziak reciprocated by taking a holding penalty on former Wild forward James Sheppard, but San Jose couldn't capitalize.

San Jose was fighting to hold their lead, but things were complicated when Barclay Goodrow broke his stick with 3 minutes left in regulation. Stalock made a huge save as the Wild worked the puck to the front of the net, and pumped a shot from point blank range.

The final 2 minutes of the game was nail biting time, after Minnesota pulled Kuemper for the extra attacker. The puck rarely exited the Sharks zone during that span, but the Sharks held the lead. Stalock backed up his win over Edmonton on Tuesday night by denying the Wild.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MIN 0 0 1 1
SJ 0 1 1 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Burns 9 (Braun, Thornton), 14:51, (pp).
3rd period - 2, MIN, Folin 1 (unassisted), 1:03. 3, SJ, Pavelski 15 (Thornton, Dillon), 1:48.
Penalties
1st period - Niederreitter, MIN (cross checking), 7:29; Dillon, SJ (cross checking), 14:54.
2nd period - Carter, MIN (roughing), 6:05; McGinn, SJ (roughing), 6:05; Prosser, MIN (interference), 13:56.
3rd period - Karlsson, SJ (hooking), 4:31; Brodziak, MIN (holding), 7:23.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MIN - Kuemper 30 28
SJ - Stalock 19 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 5 9 5 19
SJ 9 14 7 30
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 2
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Joe Pavelski
Brent Burns
Attendence
17,097
Officials
Referees: Dwyer, Walsh. Linesmen: Wheler, Lazarowich.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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