The Minnesota Wild acquired Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi
from the San Jose Sharks during the offseason in hopes of improving
one of the worst offenses in the NHL.
While they’re still having difficulty scoring, the Wild find
themselves on the verge of their longest winning streak in more
than four years thanks to a tremendous effort from their
Facing their former team for the first time, Heatley and
Setoguchi look to help visiting Minnesota record a sixth
consecutive victory in Thursday night’s matchup with the Sharks,
who haven’t lost in regulation at home to the Wild in nine
After finishing 26th in the league with 203 goals last season,
the Wild (8-3-3) acquired some much-needed offensive firepower,
sending All-Star defenseman Brent Burns and forward Martin Havlat
to the Sharks in separate deals for Setoguchi and Heatley – a
four-time 40-goal scorer.
Heatley leads the team in scoring, but he has only 10 points in
14 games while Setoguchi has eight. The Wild again rank near the
bottom of the league with an average of 2.2 goals.
While the new acquisitions have yet to boost the team
offensively, Minnesota has again excelled by relying on keeping the
puck out of its own net. That effort has been led by goalies Josh
Harding and Niklas Backstrom, who have sparked the Wild to five
straight wins with their dominant play.
Harding surrendered three goals over the first four victories,
and Backstrom made 41 saves in a 3-0 win at Calgary on Tuesday as
the Flames were held scoreless on seven power-play chances.
The Wild, who haven’t won six in a row since a franchise-best
nine-game run March 8-24, 2007, have killed off all 21 power-play
opportunities during the winning streak.
Guillaume Latendresse scored for the third time in as many games
and Heatley notched a goal and an assist. While Heatley’s surely
looking forward to taking the ice Thursday, it’s uncertain if
Backstrom or Harding will start.
“I don’t know that we could really make a bad decision as a
coaching staff … as far as who we’re going to put in net,” coach
Mike Yeo said. “When you get goaltending like that you have a
chance to win every hockey game.”
Backstrom is 1-5-1 with a 3.39 goals-against average at HP
Pavilion. Harding struggled in his only career appearance versus
the Sharks (8-4-1), making 31 saves in a 5-2 road loss Jan. 30,
The Sharks, 8-0-1 in their last nine home meetings with the
Wild, are coming off their seventh win in nine games, 4-2 over Los
Angeles on Monday.
Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each scored and
combined for four assists. Logan Couture recorded his sixth goal in
eight games while Joe Pavelski, who leads the team with 17 points,
recorded his eighth multi-point effort of the season with two
Two nights after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of
a 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville, Antti Niemi, who went 0-1-1 with
a 4.40 GAA over his first three home starts, made 29 saves.
Niemi missed some time at the beginning of the season after
having a cyst removed from his knee but seems to be rounding into
“Nemo, he’s looking sharper every night, isn’t he?” coach Todd
McLellan said. “He’s looking good, he’s starting to get comfortable
in there, he’s starting to feel good. His timing and his reads of
rushes and plays is getting better all the time so I think we’re
Niemi is 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and one shutout against
Havlat has eight points in nine games with San Jose while Burns
has five in 13.