Sharks-Wild Preview

A brief rest may have done some good for both the San Jose

Sharks and Minnesota Wild. Each team’s coach is hoping that’s the

case.

San Jose looks to end its four-game trip on a positive note

Sunday night by avoiding a sixth straight road loss to Minnesota as

both clubs play their third game in four days.

The Sharks (19-5-5) snapped a six-game winning streak with a 5-1

loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday, then allowed four third-period

goals in Friday’s 5-3 defeat at Carolina.

Joe Thornton extended his point streak to eight games with an

assist on Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s goal in the first.

“I don’t see an energized team right now,” coach Todd McLellan

said. “I see us chasing and the other team dictating the pace of

the game. I see us making sloppy plays, sloppy passes – even

missing assignments that are defensive assignments that we should

be able to do in our sleep right now.

“That could be lazy or that could be fatigue. We have to figure

that part out. We need to regroup, to get some rest.”

Minnesota coach Mike Yeo is hoping his club can do the same.

The Wild (17-9-5) earned an emotional 4-3 win over defending

Stanley Cup champion Chicago on Thursday, scoring twice in the

final six minutes, but they seemed listless the following night

while getting outshot 41-20 in a 4-0 loss at Columbus.

“We played right into (being tired), turning pucks over,” Yeo

said. “We were on our heels, slow reacting, slow getting to places.

We were not pressing the way we needed to be.”

Whether or not fatigue was a factor after blowing a two-goal

lead and rallying to beat the Blackhawks, the Wild don’t want to

make any excuses.

“It’s frustrating. We didn’t play our game at all,” defenseman

Keith Ballard said. “We were OK in the first and went straight down

from there.”

Zach Parise scored against Chicago, but that’s his only goal to

go along with one assist over his last six games.

“We were just flat and not crisp,” Parise said. “We were pretty

brutal through the neutral zone and couldn’t get anything

generated.”

San Jose won the final two meetings with the Wild last season on

its home ice, including a 6-1 victory April 18 as Logan Couture had

two goals and two assists.

Parise scored in the first matchup, a 2-0 win at home March 23.

San Jose hasn’t won a road game against Minnesota since April 2,

2010, and McLellan hopes his team can find the jump in its step to

end that streak.

“(There are) some concerns about the group right now,” McLellan

said. “I don’t know if we’re playing with the energy we played with

earlier in the year, and I don’t know why that is.”

Antti Niemi should be back in net after backup Alex Stalock made

30 saves against the Hurricanes. Niemi, 6-1-0 with a 2.35

goals-against average over his last seven starts, is 6-2-1 with a

1.89 GAA in nine outings against the Wild.

Niklas Backstrom made 37 saves against Columbus, and he could be

back in goal for this contest despite going 0-3-0 with a 2.68 GAA

over his last three starts. He’s 2-5-0 with a 3.30 GAA in his last

seven against the Sharks.