Tommy Wingels vs. Torrey Mitchell
Former Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell dropped the gloves with Tommy Wingels, drawing blood in his third career NHL fight. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
ST. PAUL – Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored goals and Niklas Backstrom kept the Sharks off of the scoreboard in a 2-0 Minnesota victory over San Jose Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota increased its one-goal lead to 2-0 early in the third period, when Spurgeon’s rising one-timer on a pass from Ryan Suter beat Antti Niemi at 1:17. Dan Boyle’s tripping penalty at the 20-minute mark of the second period gave the Wild a man advantage.
The Sharks had some good shifts and chances by their top two lines immediately after the goal, and went on a power play of their own at 3:04. Joe Pavelski’s one-timer from the slot was stopped by Backstrom, though, while Brent Burns was denied while streaking towards the net from the wing in what was San Jose’s best chance to get back into the game.
The Sharks were shut out for the third time this season, and fell to 1-3-0 on their five-game road trip, which concludes in Anaheim on Monday. Since winning their first two on the road to open the season, the Sharks are just 3-10-2 away from HP Pavilion, with two of those wins via the shootout.
The streaking Wild have won five straight and seven of their last eight.
Parise scored the only goal through the first two periods, when he was left alone to Niemi’s left. He took a pass from Mikko Koivu and easily flung it past the Sharks goaltender at 12:10 for his 12th.
The Sharks were not without their chances. Andrew Desjardins was awarded a penalty shot just 3:06 into the game, but his low attempt on Backstrom was turned aside. The Sharks are 0-for-2 on penalty shots this season, including Tommy Wingels’ attempt in Los Angeles one week ago.
Burns, the former Wild defenseman, nearly gave the Sharks a lead on the power play, when his deflection attempt on a nice pass from Marty Havlat, another former Wild player, was barely kicked away by Backstrom with 16:02 to go in the second.
Later, Havlat made another brilliant pass to Logan Couture, who missed a wide open net with 14 minutes to go in the middle frame.
The Wild nearly increased their lead before the second intermission, when Devin Setoguchi fed Dany Heatley on a two-on-one, and Heatley rang it off of the crossbar less than a minute after Parise’s goal.
Former Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell didn’t get on the scoresheet, but dropped the gloves for a rare fight with Wingels at 15:34 of the second. It was just Mitchell’s third career fight.
Scott Gomez’s five-game assist streak came to an end. Havlat’s goalless drought is now at 15 games, while Pavelski’s reached 10 games. Pavelski has just one goal and two assists in the last 18 games.
The Wild were technically 1-for-4 on the power play, although Parise’s goal came just one second after James Sheppard stepped from the box.
The Sharks finished 0-for-4, just the second time in the last six games they failed to score a power play goal.
Niemi started for the 17th time in the last 18 games, and stopped 22 of 24 shots. He fell to 4-2-1 in his career against the WIld, and 12-8-5 this season.
Backstrom improved to 6-10-3 career against San Jose with 33 saves. It was his first shutout of the season and 27th of his career.
Ryane Clowe missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury, but said on Friday he hopes to play in Anaheim on Monday.
The Sharks iced the same lineup as they did in Edmonton on Wednesday, meaning Jason Demers played in his third straight game for the first time this season.
The Sharks flew to Anaheim immediately following the game and will close out their road trip against the Ducks on Monday. A seven-game homestand begins on Wednesday against Anaheim, and continues the next night against Detroit.