SAN JOSE -- The red-hot Minnesota penalty kill finally met its match. His name is Patrick Marleau.Marleau tallied twice on the power play in the second period and Torrey Mitchell scored his first of the season late in the frame, as the Sharks defeated the Wild at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 3-1.San Jose is 8-1-1 since it started the season losers of three of its first four.The Wild, which entered having won their last five games, had killed off 27 straight opponent power plays before a miscue allowed Marleau to open the scoring.
With Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the box for hooking early in the second, Dan Boyle ripped a shot on net from center ice. Goalie Niklas Backstrom made the easy stop, and the puck settled in front of the net. It should have been a simple clear for either Backstrom or defenseman Justin Falk, but the two of them got their signals crossed and Marleau raced ahead to pop in the loose puck at 2:34.Boyle dumped it on the goalie and I tried to get in on the forecheck, and it was just laying right there, said Marleau. It was nice.The Wild had allowed just three goals total during their winning streak, but it took the Sharks just over 16 minutes to equal that in the second period. After his first goal, Marleau ripped home a one-timer on a cross-ice feed from Ryane Clowe for another one on the man advantage at 15:34.Torrey Mitchells first of the season at 18:39 was the backbreaker. He fired in a one-timer immediately following an offensive zone faceoff win by Michal Handzus on a set play.Handzus saw something and said line up here and one-time it, said Mitchell. So I said, yes sir.The goal was especially important as the Wild seemed deflated at the start of the third period. They didnt register their first shot on goal until almost nine minutes had passed.Two goals, youre still in it. Three, youre starting to doubt yourself, said Mitchell. It was a really big one for us, so yeah, it was huge and probably took some wind out of them, for sure.It sure was a big one, agreed Todd McLellan. To get to three certainly helped. Theyre not a team thats scored a lot, they prevent a lot. And, faceoffs have been an issue for us. We havent had our numbers where we wanted them to be at, so for Zeus to win that draw and Mitchy to put it in was a real good thing for our team.The Wild managed to ruin Antti Niemis shutout bid with a goal by Kyle Brodziak at 13:33 of the third, but the Sharks goalie held the fort for his second straight win and sixth overall with 21 saves. Backstrom took the loss, allowing three goals on 36 shots.The game, though, was more about the final score. Sharks Brent Burns and Martin Havlat were playing against the Wild for the first time since the two teams pulled off several offseason trades over the summer. Conversely, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley played in their old building for the first time this season.Burns, who registered an assist on the first goal, admitted the win felt good but that hes glad its now in the past.It was good to get it over with, he said. Im sure the first one in Minny is going to be the same thing, but its good to get this one over with.McLellan also seemed content to put the game behind him, and not just for his own clubs sake.I think what happened tonight was those players that were moved in this deal realized they have new homes now, said the coach. Its good for us, and certainly good for them. Seto and Heatley had great games, but I think now that its over they realize they have new homes and its time to really settle in and contribute to both organizations.The Sharks have now won three games this season in which one of their key players was facing off against a former club. Long time Devils defenseman Colin White visited his old team earlier this season, while any time Joe Thornton visits Boston it seems to be newsworthy. The Sharks beat the Devils on Oct. 21, 4-3, and the Bruins the next night, 4-2.Burns thinks thats no coincidence.It was a big summer with the trades and everything. We went on the road to New Jersey, and Boston, and I think every game is big. But, when there are games like that, knowing in the room that that guy wants to winit was good, he said.The Sharks also got a good performance from their much-maligned penalty kill, which entered the game ranked 29th out of 30. San Jose killed off all three Wild power plays, after instituting a new system that emphasizes making it more difficult to bring the puck through the neutral zone.It takes everybody on the ice on the PK, and everybody was ready tonight, said Marleau.McLellan said: We did execute some of the things we wanted to following our practices.The Sharks continue their six-game homestand with the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. They are 3-0-1 through the first four.Odds and ends: Justin Braun got his first point of the season, assisting on Marleaus first goal. McLellan tried some new defense pairs for the majority of the game, playing Burns with White and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Braun. Niemi is 4-0 against the Wild all-time, while Backstrom fell to 1-6-1 against the Sharks in his career. The Wild are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games at HP Pavilion.