Preview: Wild at Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. — An offense that’s sputtered for much of the season at home has finally roared to life for the San Jose Sharks.
The surging Sharks will try to complete a sweep of a three-game homestand on Sunday night when they face the Minnesota Wild for the first time in 2017-18.
While San Jose (16-10-2) is looking to avoid its fourth straight loss to Minnesota, the Sharks are also going for their 12th win in 15 games at SAP Center in the matchup.
San Jose got 25 saves from Aaron Dell for his second shutout of the season in a 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Logan Couture had a goal and two assists — including his 400th NHL point — Joe Pavelski notched a goal and an assist, and Brent Burns chipped in with a pair of helpers.
“It’s nice to have a night like that,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “Whether we can do that again (Sunday) night, I don’t know, but confidence is a big part of scoring. There’s a lot of guys feeling good about themselves tonight.”
Over the last three home games, San Jose has 14 goals after collecting 16 in the previous seven contests.
“The Sharks can score goals, huh?” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who also lit the lamp Saturday.
Couture, who leads the club with 15 goals and 25 points, has four goals and three assists in a four-game points streak at home. The Sharks are 4-1-0 all-time at home when Couture logs a point against the Wild.
Couture also had a career-high four points (two goals, two assists) in a 6-1 win over Minnesota on April 18, 2013.
San Jose is 2-2-0 in the second of back-to-back games.
Dell, who has a 0.67 goals-against average and .977 save percentage while winning each of his last three starts, has never faced Minnesota. Despite the backup’s recent solid play, Martin Jones will likely be back between the pipes for San Jose. If so, he’ll look for snap a personal three-game losing streak to the Wild in which he’s surrendered 10 goals.
Jones is 1-2-0 with a 4.32 GAA and .866 save percentage this month.
The Wild split the first two games of their California trip. After falling to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, Minnesota (14-11-3) got a goal from Matt Dumba with 77 seconds to play in overtime for a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
“We’ve still got a shot at winning the week, and that’s our goal,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If you keep winning the weeks, then eventually, you’re going to find yourself in the playoffs.”
If Minnesota is going to head home with a winning record on their swing, then it may turn to Alex Stalock in goal against the team that picked him 112th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft.
Playing as a backup first to Antti Niemi and then Jones, Stalock posted a 24-19-7 record with a 2.37 GAA, a .911 save percentage and four shutouts between 2011 and 2016 before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This season, Stalock is 2-3-1 with a 3.14 GAA and a .904 save percentage while backing up Devan Dubnyk. Stalock has not played since surrendering a career-high seven goals in a loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 27.
Seven-year veteran Jason Zucker, who is enjoying a breakout season, powers Minnesota’s offense. The Southern California native has a team-best 14 goals — including four game-winners — and 24 points in 28 games. He’s been more productive on the road with 10 goals, three of which were game-winners, and 18 points.
However, Zucker has just two goals and three assists in 11 career games against San Jose.
Among players currently on the roster, Mikko Koivu leads the Wild in scoring versus the Sharks with 10 goals and 10 assists in 38 games. Minnesota’s captain, who has reached double digits in goals in each of the last 11 seasons, has just four in 28 games so far.
Koivu has also failed to record a point in six straight contests.