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Sharks' key victory over Wild marred by fracas

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE -- It should have been a night for TJ Galiardi and his San Jose teammates to celebrate. A fight at the end of the game may have tarnished the Sharks' sixth straight victory, a 4-2 decision over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

San Jose defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Wild forward Dany Heatley, an ex-teammate, were involved in a fracas at the end of the game that may leave Heatley out of action for a while.

Vlasic earned a game misconduct and a five-minute major for slashing Heatley, who was hit with a roughing call.

Vlasic said Heatley "took a swing at me and missed. I took a swing and got him. That's what it is."

The Wild players were mum about the confrontation, though Kyle Brodziak had to be escorted off the ice by a referee after the game as he continued to point and talk heatedly. Later he claimed not to have seen a thing.

Minnesota coach Mike Yeo was not very talkative either, making a simple statement and leaving it at that.

"It's unfortunate. We played hard," he said. "It just didn't go our way, especially early."

Martin Havlat, Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 13-1-4 at home this season.

"When you have a shoot-first mentality, that's what happens," Thornton said. "Things seem to go in the net for you. We just want to funnel pucks close to the net, and you never know what can happen. I was due for a lucky bounce."

Charlie Coyle and Heatley scored for the Wild, who have lost two straight and three of four after winning seven straight.

"We went on a good streak and when you do that you get too loose," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "Even the last couple of wins weren't very good. I think it has carried over and we haven't been ready to play. Too many games we've given up the first goal and not playing well in the first period."

The victory lifted the Sharks (19-11-6) into a tie for third place in the Western Conference with the Wild (21-13-2) and the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks leaped over the idle Los Angeles Kings.

The Wild remain atop the Northwest Division despite their recent woes. They also remain on the road, where they are 8-9-1, for two more games, including Thursday night at Los Angeles.

San Jose remains at home for two more games, Friday against the Calgary Flames and Sunday against the Dallas Stars.

The Sharks, one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, were tied for the eighth spot with the Nashville Predators before embarking on their current winning streak.

"Maybe we were prepared," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Maybe we're on our toes a little bit more then at the beginning of the year. We seem to start well here at home. Our guys are excited about playing in front of our fans. We get all four lines rolling, and when that happens, we can stay fresh and jump on teams."

Galiardi became the most recent example of the Sharks sharing the limelight. He scored his first goal since Feb. 26 and his second all season.

Havlat has scored seven points in nine games since returning from an injury. He had six points in the 20 games before getting hurt.

Antii Niemi saved 31 of 33 shots for the Sharks, while Niklas Backstrom topped 29 of 33 for the Wild.

The Sharks evened their season series at 1-1 with the Wild and will host Minnesota again in two weeks.

"It's been tough for a couple of games now," Backstrom said. "We have a system that works. We have to get back to the details and doing the right thing. We have to be better with the puck and get a chance to play more in their end."

San Jose did not allow a power-play situation until there were less than 54 seconds remaining to play. The Sharks did not allow Vancouver a power play at all on Monday night.

The Wild were 0-for-5 on the power play in Monday's loss to the St. Louis Blues and have scored twice in their last 20 power-play situations.

The Sharks wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, scoring twice in the first 5:19 of play.

Havlat scored his fifth goal of the season, and just his second in two months, with 1:34 elapsed. He took a nifty shot that sailed past Wild Backstrom after Thornton set him up with a nice pass.

Thornton recorded an assist in his fourth straight contest.

Boyle didn't need much help to score his sixth goal of the season in a 5-on-3 situation at 5:19 of the first.

Boyle picked up the puck in his own zone and rushed own the ice, getting past Ryan Suter with a nice move and beating Backstrom one-on-one.

"I was just going to drop it by the redline and then I just changed my mind. I'm glad I did," Boyle said. "I've had some good rushes. My finish hasn't been so good lately. I've had a lot of highlight rushes, but I never seem to finish with the goal."

Backstrom later recorded two magnificent saves in one-on-one situations, which proved vital as the Wild came back to tie the game with two quick goals of their own in the second period.

Coyle, whom the Sharks made their first-round draft pick three years ago, was in a give-and-go with Parise and followed Parise's shot on goal to tap in the rebound.

Heatley, a former Shark, scored 25 seconds later, firing a shot from just inside the blue line that got past Niemi. Justin Falk was credited with the assist.

Brent Burns helped the Sharks regain the lead at 3-2 late in the second period. He intercepted a clearing pass and threw it into the middle, where Thornton patiently waited for an opening and then fired a shot that deflected off the right skate of Clayton Stoner and into the net.

NOTES: Heatley scored in two consecutive games for the first time this season. ... The Wild recalled forward Johan Larsson and promptly included him in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres to obtain right wing Jason Pominville and Buffalo's fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Goaltender Matt Hackett, Minnesota's first-round pick in 2013 and second-round pick in 2014 were also part of the deal. Wild center Matt Cullen is expected to miss at least two games with an upper body injury. ... The Sharks acquired two players on Wednesday in exchange for draft picks. They got defenseman Scott Hannan from the Nashville Predators and left wing Raffi Torres from the Phoenix Coyotes. Hannan spent the first eight years of his career in San Jose, playing in 508 games, 10th all-time among Sharks players. His plus-45 rating ranks him fifth all-time. ... Parise has 16 points in his last 15 games. ... Boyle has scored all four of the Sharks' 5-on-3 goals this season.

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