Programming note: Islanders-Sharks coverage begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
ST. PAUL – Although the Sharks lost 3-1 to Minnesota on Sunday, their third straight defeat, team’s new look forward lines were generally effective in generating 38 shots on net and giving up just 13 to the Wild.
The return of Matt Nieto and Freddie Hamilton from Worcester seemed to add some pep to the Sharks’ step, and is perhaps a first step in the right direction for the team as it tries to reverse course on its first real downturn this season.
Nieto finished with a game high six shots on goal in 11 minutes and 36 seconds of ice time, while skating on a third line with Tommy Wingels and Andrew Desjardins.
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“That’s pretty good,” Todd McLellan said. “We’ve had two or three guys that have gone two games without [a shot], so at least he had some good involvement in the game.”
Nieto said: “I thought I did a pretty good job of getting in on the forecheck. I thought when I did do a good job of that, we played in the offensive zone a lot more.”
Was he frustrated he couldn’t capitalize on some chances?
“I didn’t get frustrated out there,” he said. “I’m obviously happy to be back here and I’m happy that I got some looks. I’m proud of that.”
Hamilton played exactly nine minutes with three shots on goal. He won three of eight faceoffs while centering James Sheppard and Tyler Kennedy.
“Freddie had some legs,” McLellan said.
Joe Thornton thinks Nieto and Hamilton could be here to stay.
Thornton said: “I thought Matty Nieto looked great. He looked fast, even Freddie looked good. They’ll probably be sticking around for awhile now.”
In order to make room for them, Marty Havlat and John McCarthy were scratched. McLellan said that Havlat, who blocked a shot on Friday in Carolina and limped back to the bench at one point, “wasn’t available.”
Havlat, who has five points in 16 games and was a healthy scratch on Nov. 15, did not take pregame warmups on Sunday.