Wild-Sharks Preview

Joe Pavelski has been worth every penny since signing a five-year, $30 million extension with the San Jose Sharks in July.

Captain Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t going anywhere, either.

In their first game since agreeing to extensions, Thornton and Marleau try to lead San Jose to a season high-tying sixth consecutive win Saturday night against the visiting Minnesota Wild.

With the two players set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, the Sharks (33-12-6) locked them up Friday for the next three years. The deals will reportedly pay Thornton and Marleau averages of $6.75 and $6.66 million, respectively.

Leading the NHL with 47 assists, Thornton’s team-best 53 points are four more than the total of Marleau, whose 425 goals and 908 points are the most in franchise history.

"Patrick and Joe continue to perform at an elite level in the National Hockey League and, most importantly, they make the other players around them better," general manager Doug Wilson said. "They both made it very clear that they wanted to stay in San Jose and we were able to agree on contracts that fit with our team building philosophy."

Pavelski has certainly benefited from playing alongside Thornton, scoring an NHL-high 19 goals since Dec. 10, including seven in the last four games.

"I’ve been expecting to score for a while," Pavelski said. "Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t."

Pavelski scored in the third period of a 1-0 victory over Winnipeg on Thursday, his third consecutive game-winning goal.

"We hope it lasts for a long time," coach Todd McLellan said. "Right spot, right time, great hand-eye. … Very good hand-eye coordination to put it in."

The Sharks have allowed seven goals during their winning streak. They’ve won six in a row twice this season.

Alex Stalock stopped 20 shots Thursday in posting his second straight shutout. He’s 7-2-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average.

"It’s awesome," Pavelski told the NHL’s official website. "He’s come in and played great for us. He’s made some big saves along the way. It’s really good for the team obviously. (Antti Niemi) has been great. Al steps in on the odd nights and has been phenomenal."

The Sharks have to like their chances to keep rolling with Minnesota coming to town. San Jose has outscored the Wild 49-26 during a 12-1-1 stretch at home, winning the most recent matchup 3-1 on Dec. 12 behind two goals from Pavelski.

Niemi stopped 29 shots in that game and is 6-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA against Minnesota at home. He’s 11-1-1 with a 1.73 GAA in his last 13 home starts overall.

Set to open a four-game trip, the Wild (28-20-5) have won three of four and eight of 11 after beating Chicago 2-1 on Thursday. Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville scored while Darcy Kuemper stopped 33 shots.

Kuemper, who has made six straight starts, is 5-2-0 with a 1.68 GAA and one shutout in his last seven.

"I’m pretty confident right now," he said. "Obviously I just want to go in there and every time I get a chance, help the team win. And when you’re getting wins like this, obviously it’s easy to keep rolling and come to the rink every day with a smile."

Star forward Zach Parise returned to the ice after missing 14 games with a broken left foot. He has five goals and six assists in 11 matchups with San Jose.

Pavelski has recorded nine and six in 12 career home meetings in the series.