Saturday, January 30, 2010

'Just a Great Hockey Game', but Wild still wind up as Shark bait

The San Jose Sharks got a real scare tonight. And no, it wasn't a mirage you watched (if you did, given the late hour) Saturday night. The Minnesota Wild were really playing that good.

But you cannot give up four power-play goals, a single-game Wild all-time record, and expect to win on the road in the NHL. And so it was tonight at HP Pavilion at San Jose, as the Wild lost to the Sharks, 5-2, in front of 175 Wild fans on the team's official 'Road Trip', and 17,387 Sharks faithful, as Josh Harding made his third consecutive start, and finished by having suffered his first loss in his last 4 games.

The Wild struck first as Owen Nolan tipped the puck off a Guillaume Latendresse shot by Evgeni Nabokov on the power play, then after Jason Demers whizzed one by a screen Harding to tie it at one-all, Cal Clutterbuck's point-blank redirect of Kyle Brodziak's pass in front of Nabokov found twine in the last minute of the first period.

Demers then took advantage of an errant clearing attempt by Kim Johnsson while the Wild were killing off a questionable penalty against Belanger, netting his second of the night thru another screen, 3:15 into the second period, tying the game at 2-2. Later in the second, Joe Pavelski took advantage of a Marek Zidlicky penalty, stepping around Brent Burns like Burns was a statute, and surprising Harding to put the Sharks in front 3-2 at the 16:57 mark.

Six seconds after Robbie Earl was whistled off for interference, Patrick Marleau tallied his first goal of the evening as his blast sizzled by Harding at 13:14 of the third period, for a 4-2 San Jose lead. Just over 3 minutes later, Marleau made sure the Wild had no comeback as he deflected a shot by Dany Heatley into the net for the 5-2 final score.

Next Game: at Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 7:00 PM, American Airlines Center. (TV: Versus, TSN2, in HD; viewing parties in Twin Cities area; details at XM Radio, Ch. 209)

-- WRT

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