The Minnesota Wild, coming off a 7-1 record in the previous eight games, gave the Sharks a wild ride in San Jose Tuesday night, but it was the Sharks who came away with the “W” in a hard-fought 4-3 victory.
Bursting with energy, the first period began with the Wild swarming in front of Martin Jones, then the Sharks got their time in the offensive zone. Much of the game was this north-south hockey by both teams, which kept it exciting for fans. Less than five minutes into the game, the Sharks scored first on their first shot of the game. Brent Burns’ pass to Marcus Sorenson made it into wide-open Devan Dubnyk’s net. Wild tried to respond but Erik Karlsson recovered the stopped puck in front of Jones. Joe Pavelski is called on tripping and it was the first glimpse of the Wild special team and Sharks’ penalty kill. Although the Wild got two shots on Jones, they were unable to convert. Barclay Goodrow almost scored short-handed, once again showing the north-south nature of the game momentum. It was a physically packed first period, the Wild outshooting the Sharks, but the Sharks made it count on only two shots to the Wild’s eight shots.
The energy spilled into the second period and the Sharks got two good looks. Their persistence paid off as Sorenson’s redirected shot from Goodrow went upstairs and put the Sharks at 2-0. The goal was given to Sorenson at first but further video review revealed that it was in fact deflected off of Joe Thornton, who scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s game, now on a 2-game scoring streak. Timo Meier, the hero from Saturday’s game with 11 goals in only 14 games (franchise leader in goals per games played), got called on a tripping penalty. The Wild made it count this time as Zach Parise scooted one in underneath Jones’ left pad. The 2-1 score was short-lived as the Sharks responded five minutes later, a center drive by Antti Suomela, making it 3-1 Sharks. They kept the heat on, getting a second chance on the very same shift. By the end of the second, the Sharks closed the gap on shots on goal with 14 total shots to Wild’s 19 shots.
The goal-scoring momentum continued with three goals scored in the third period. Meier got the first shot on the first shift of the third period, but it was Wild’s Jared Spurgeon, one of the league’s hot defensemen, who made it 3-2 early on. Less than two minutes later, the Wild tied the game with a top left shot by Matt Dumba. With three forwards high and clean passing, the Wild showed their resiliency to catch up. Sharks responded with Evander Kane trying to sneak one in after his north-south run up the ice and deke play, but as fast as Kane was, Dubnyk was faster in laying his pad down.
A blast from Burns at the point was tipped in by Goodrow who already had a secondary assist in the game. His screen in front of Dubnyk made it hard for him to see the puck, making it 4-3, and giving the Sharks the go-ahead goal. Unsportsmanlike conduct was called on Marc-Edouard Vlasic, which was followed by a “Ref You Suck!” chant in the building from the amped up fans. The Sharks have a history of letting up in the final minutes of the game when they’re ahead, but with faster, shorter shifts in the final four minutes, they were able to keep their lead to end the game. This victory tied them for first place in Pacific Division with northern neighbors Calgary Flames.