The Minnesota Wild look to keep the pendulum swinging in their favor as they hit the road for two games in San Jose against the Sharks on Monday and Wednesday, followed by a pair in Las Vegas.
The Wild have strung together three wins in a row and sit in a strong third place in the West Division, while the Sharks look to find some positive momentum as they play their next nine games in Southern California.
Monday’s game marks the fourth time this season the Wild and Sharks have faced each other, with Minnesota leading the season series 2-1-0, winning the last matchup on Feb. 22 by a score of 6-2.
Following a two-game sweep of Anaheim last week, the Wild shut out the St. Louis Blues, 2-0, on Thursday, a game in which they made the best of only 11 shots on goal.
“We didn’t have the A-game, or our best game, but we had the best results,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
The real hero for the Wild that night was netminder Cam Talbot, who made 37 saves in the shutout. He improved to a 7-0-0 home record on the season after starting on successive nights against Anaheim and St. Louis.
“Anytime there’s a back-to-back,” Talbot explained, “you’re trying to do everything you can to swallow up rebounds and put the puck in good places so there aren’t those second opportunities. If I did leave some (pucks) laying out there, the guys did a really good job of whacking it out of harm’s way for me. So, another gritty win for us, and we’ll take the two points.”
While Talbot figures to start for Minnesota in Monday’s game, it is less clear who San Jose will choose to put between the pipes. The Sharks are coming off back-to-back road losses against the Arizona Coyotes, in which Martin Jones was on the losing end of a 5-2 result before Devan Dubnyk started in a 4-0 defeat.
Regardless of who starts in net, the Sharks are eager to put a weekend of limited offense in Arizona behind them. In addition to lacking offense in Saturday’s shutout loss, San Jose racked up 29 penalty minutes and spent significant chunks of the second and third periods on the penalty kill.
“There’s a lot of games left,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said after Saturday’s loss. “If we could have come in here and gotten a split, we would have felt good about ourselves going home. It’s a little bit of a blow, but there’s nothing we can change now.”
The consecutive losses continued a pattern of inconsistency for the Sharks, who swept the Los Angeles Kings in a two-game set before going to Arizona. They are just 2-5-1 in their last eight games.
“It’s far from over for us,” defenseman Mario Ferraro said. “We’re still going to make a run. There’s a lot of hockey left. This shouldn’t break (us) down. Yeah, we lost these two … but we have to have the mindset to keep battling.”
–Field Level Media