Riding their longest winning stretch of the season, the
Minnesota Wild appear poised to succeed every time they take the
The San Jose Sharks hope to reach that level of confidence
before it’s too late.
Back from a perfect trip, the Wild look for a fifth straight
victory while trying to continue their recent success over the
desperate Sharks on Saturday.
Devin Setoguchi scored twice and Niklas Backstrom made 36 saves
as Minnesota (17-10-2) concluded a 3-0-0 trip with a 4-2 win at
Detroit on Wednesday. In the midst of their longest winning streak
since a seven-game run Nov. 28-Dec. 10, 2011, the Wild have won 11
of 15 and have one game in hand on Northwest Division co-leader
Minnesota has not been to the playoffs since 2007-08.
“It’s been fun hockey,” said ex-Shark Setoguchi, who has six of
his 11 goals and two assists in his last five games. “The main
thing is everyone is ready to go at the start of the game.
“Right now we’ve got our identity filled out. We know what we’re
doing and we’re trying to ride it.”
The Wild, who have 18 goals in four games, are 11 for 44 (25.0
percent) on the power play in the last 12 contests after going 8
for 58 (13.8) through the first 17.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard has a goal and six assists in four games
while Mikko Koivu has four with eight assists in his last 12. Dany
Heatley, another former Shark, had four assists on the trip.
“We’ve just got everybody contributing right now,” coach Mike
Yeo said. “Getting it from the power play, getting it from
Backstrom has been in net for each game during the winning
streak and stopped 71 of 74 shots in beating Vancouver and
“You’ve got everybody going out and playing our game,” Yeo said.
“We’ve been doing a real good job of looking at what is right in
front of us.”
Minnesota is 10-3-1 at home and looking for a fifth straight win
there over San Jose (13-10-6) in this first season meeting between
the clubs. The Wild have won the last three overall in the series,
each by one goal.
San Jose improved to 1-2-0 on a five-game trip Wednesday when it
rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 in a shootout at
Edmonton. Logan Couture scored twice in regulation and in the
shootout to help the Sharks win for the second time in eight
While Minnesota is in the mix for a division title, San Jose is
simply trying to make the playoffs in the crowded Western
“It’s a battle every night,” Couture said. “There are no easy
points in this conference, every single team is so good. To win the
way that we were able to and come back with two goals in the third,
hopefully that can get us going in the right direction.
“We need all the points we can get right now.”
Couture has six of his 14 goals in the last seven games. He has
three in his last six versus Minnesota.
San Jose’s Antti Niemi has a 3.55 goals-against average while
going 2-3-1 in the last seven games. He’s allowed six goals in
losing his last two against the Wild after yielding that many while
winning his first four versus Minnesota.