Sharks fall to Wild in shootout; win streak ends at four

January 11, 2012, 3:27 am
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ST. PAUL The Sharks struck for two goals late in the third period in Minnesota to force overtime, but fell in a shootout to the Wild on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, 5-4.

Logan Couture and Partick Marleaus markers with about three minutes remaining allowed the Sharks to gain a point in the standings, but the team trailed the light-scoring Wild throughout most of the night.

Guess which one coach Todd McLellan chose to concentrate on afterwards.

For two and a half periods I thought we werent very good, he said. That will be the focus for our group. Just not hard enough; competitive areas of the rink, in front of our net, in front of their net, along the boards, faceoff circle. They were a lot grittier than we were.

Still, San Jose was able to find its game and erase two separate two-goal deficits in the third period.

After the Wilds Nick Johnson fired a wrist shot past Antti Niemis glove hand at 7:42 to make it 3-1, Benn Ferriero brought the Sharks back to within a goal when he deflected in a wrister by Marc-Edouard Vlasic midway through the third. Matt Cullen gave the Wild their two goal lead back, though, when he drove to the net after the Sharks turned it over in the neutral zone and the puck snuck across the line with just 6:20 left in regulation.

That could have been the final nail in the Sharks coffin. Instead, Couture found a loose puck and banked it in off of defenseman Justin Falk, who was sprawled out in the crease, at 16:54. Then, Marleau tipped in a pass from Joe Thornton as San Jose worked a three-on-two rush to perfection at 17:16.

It was pretty nice, just drove the middle and Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton made two great passes, and I was able to just get a stick on it and redirect it.

Tie game.

The Sharks maintained pressure into overtime on what appeared to be a deflated Wild team. Thornton almost won it with a redirection of a Dan Boyle low wrister just 20 seconds after the faceoff that may have gone off of Marleau, while Marleaus chance alone in front was turned aside by Josh Harding.

Thornton thought his deflection had the game won.

I did. I think it just hit Patty, and then Patty had a pretty good shot at it, he said.

In the shootout, Cullen and Mikko Koivu converted on Niemi while Harding stopped Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe to give Minnesota just its second win in the last 13 games and snap the Sharks four-game winning streak.

For the Sharks, the biggest question is, why couldnt they play the same way the first two periods as they did late in the game?

I think for 45 of the first 45 minutes we were not a team that played with a lot of energy or emotion or anything, Boyle said. The last 15 of the third and overtime we turned it up a notch. Shoulda, coulda, woulda at the end there, with tons of chances. They probably should have won it after 45, but with 15 to go we missed our chance to steal a game, I guess.

Some nights you get what you deserve, and tonight we probably got a little more than we deserved, McLellan said. We need to adjust and move on, and were going to need a much better effort in the next three games on this trip.

The Sharks visit Winnipeg on Thursday before continuing to Columbus and Chicago this weekend.

The Wild took the lead on Cal Clutterbucks goal at 7:04 of the first period. After Minnesota gained the zone, Casey Wellman found Clutterbuck skating into the zone with speed. Clutterbuck went around Ferriero and fired a wrist shot past Niemi for his 11th goal.

The Sharks tied it up on a two-man advantage with Jared Spurgeon and Kyle Brodziak off for minor penalties just three seconds apart, when Boyle blasted in his third goal at 16:08.

Minnesota jumped out to a 2-1 advantage with the only goal of the second period. Warren Peters soft wrist shot appeared to be headed wide of the net, but it bounced off of Coutures skate and slowly trickled over the goal line at 13:26.

The Wild entered at 29th in the league in goals-per-game, and were down two of their top six forwards as it was announced that Pierre-Marc Bouchard is out indefinitely again with a concussion, while Devin Setoguchi was scratched for reportedly for missing a team meeting in the morning.

McLellan knew it, and cautioned his team that the Wild would storm out of the gates and clamp down defensively. That made him all the more agitated when it didnt happen.

Expected it, warned our group about it, knew it was coming, he said. They lose a couple of important offensive players, they buckle down and play even better defensively.

Later, he added: Missing a lot of players tonight. A lot of players missing in action.

In net, Niemi finished with 27 saves, while Harding had 34, including a spectacular sliding save on Marleau with 6:20 left in the first period on a pass from Thornton.

The game marked defenseman Brent Burns first appearance back in Minnesota, and he received a warm round of applause from the home fans when recognized in-arena in the first period.

The Sharks are 1-1-1 against the Wild in three meetings this season. The clubs conclude their season series here on Feb. 26.

Odds and ends: Andrew Murray, Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki were the healthy scratches for the Sharks. All five of Benn Ferrieros goals have come on the road. Patrick Marleau recorded his 800th and 801st career points in the NHL. He has nine points in his last six games (3g, 6a). The Sharks have points in 12 of their last 13 games (9-1-4). Faceoffs were even, 35-35. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had five of the Sharks 11 blocked shots.