NHL

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 10:30 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Wild-Sharks Preview

Share This Story

   
 

The San Jose Sharks are making a strong push to open the postseason at home. Playing their next three games there could help them move closer to making it happen.

San Jose looks to extend its home point streak to 15 while the Minnesota Wild try to continue their playoff push with a third straight win Thursday night.

With Raffi Torres scoring on his first shootout attempt in two years, the Sharks (23-13-7) moved into fourth-place tie with Los Angeles in a 3-2 victory over the Kings on Tuesday.

It was the start of a four-game homestand for San Jose, 15-1-5 at HP Pavilion this season. The Sharks' 10-0-4 surge is their longest home point streak since a team-best 31-game stretch March 3, 2008-Jan. 13, 2009.

Antti Niemi has been in net for all but two of San Jose's home games in 2012-13, and has a 1.76 goals-against average in those contests after making 41 saves Tuesday. It was his 21st consecutive start.

"He's been a real good workhorse for us,'' coach Todd McLellan said. "There's been guys in the past who played 80 of 82 games in the league. So it's not uncommon for goaltenders to play a lot. We're only halfway through what would normally be a regular season. So he looks like he's got a lot of gas in the tank and is excited about playing.''

Niemi had lost three consecutive starts to the Wild before turning aside 31 shots in a 4-2 home win April 3. The Sharks are 10-1-1 in Minnesota's last 12 visits.

That doesn't bode well for a Wild team fighting to secure its first playoff berth in four years. Minnesota (24-16-3), the sixth seed, is four points back of Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead but could also easily fall out of the top eight.

The Wild, though, appear to be on the upswing at the right time, scoring nine goals on the first two stops of their three-game trip. Minnesota, 2-0-1 in its last three, totaled eight goals during a 1-5-1 slump that preceded the latest two games.

"We went through a definite lull where we weren't playing the way we should, but as of late, we are starting to find our game again," center Kyle Brodziak said.

Brodziak ended an 11-game goal drought with two in a 5-3 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday.

Niklas Backstrom earned his first shutout of the season with 33 saves in a 2-0 home victory over the Sharks on March 23. Backstrom, though, hasn't been on his game at San Jose, recording a 3.68 GAA while losing five straight starts there.

Backstrom will have to worry about the Sharks' Brent Burns, who has scored eight goals - including one against the Oilers - in 19 games since McLellan moved him from defense to wing.

Wild leading scorer Zach Parise, who snapped an eight-game goal drought Tuesday, has three goals and six assists in a seven-game point streak versus the Sharks.

Minnesota had won four straight in this series prior to its visit to San Jose earlier this month.

Tagged: Sharks, Wild, Niklas Backstrom

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt