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Wild victory over Sharks a bit special

The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- If your power play scores goals, you're likely to win. If it does not, as the San Jose Sharks learned on Saturday, and the other team does, you've got trouble.

The Sharks continued to slump after they allowed a power play goal, and failed to score on four power plays of their own in a 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu each had two assists, and Niklas Backstrom stopped 33 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Wild's hot streak continued.

"An honest effort," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Special teams let us down. "It's not that we were horrendous in those areas, but they beat us in power play and penalty kill situations.

"Five-on-five, I thought we played even or maybe even had more scoring opportunities."

Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored for the Wild, who have won five in a row and are sitting solidly atop the Northwest Division.

For the Sharks, it was their seventh loss in the last nine games, and only the third time they've been shut out this season.

Spurgeon sealed the victory early in the third period, ripping a slap shot into the upper right corner of the net with the Wild on a power play.

For Backstrom, it was the 27th shutout of his career.

"Today, it's a really good team we play against," Backstrom said. "It's a really good challenge. For us, even though it's 0-0 after first, we just have to believe in the locker room that you keep playing the right way, you keep playing your hockey, we're going to get the chances, we're going to score the goals we need.

"But it's not just something we turn the switch and it happens. I think it's a lot of hard work. Every game. Every practice. We didn't get here by being lucky."

The first period was free of goals, but did not lack action, as the Sharks had a penalty shot after Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner pulled down Andrew Dejardins on a breakaway and the Wild had a four-minute power play after Brent Burns' high stick to the face of Justin Falk.

Minnesota finally broke the scoreless deadlock late in the second period. James Sheppard's interference penalty had just expired when Parise took a pass from Koivu and zipped a shot into the top half of the Sharks net.

It broke a five-game stretch without a goal for Parise, his longest of the season.

"What's great about Zach is that if you don't talk about those things, nobody's going to notice because he's going out, he's playing great and he's helping us win," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

"This guy is going to play huge minutes for us every night. Tonight we won our fifth in a row and if he didn't score he'd still give us a great chance to win a hockey game."

Dany Heatley nearly doubled the Wild lead later in the second with a shot that hit the left goalpost and the crossbar before being cleared by the San Jose defense.

There also was an incident of bad blood between former co-workers, as Tommy Wingels of the Sharks and Torrey Mitchell of the Wild exchanged words, and then punches, at center ice.

"We don't like each other and we settled it, just kidding," Wingels said with a smile. "We're friends, just trying to get some momentum for our team, and he got the better of it in the fight. It's just playing hockey; there's no hard feelings or anything."

Mitchell came to the Wild as a free agent over the summer after five seasons in San Jose.

Antti Niemi had 22 saves for the Sharks (13-11-6), who play in Anaheim on Monday. The Wild (18-10-2) travel to Dallas for a Monday night game.

NOTES: Enemies on the ice Saturday, Joe Pavelski of the Sharks, Tom Gilbert of the Wild and several other former Wisconsin Badgers were best of friends on Friday at Xcel Energy Center. Those two, along with Adam Burish of the Sharks, Ryan Suter of the Wild and Dany Heatley of the Wild, shared a suite for the Badgers' Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament semifinal game against St. Cloud State. Wisconsin won, 4-1, and will face Colorado College in Saturday night's title game. ... Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock was back in the St. Paul arena for the first time since 2009 when he was selected WCHA tournament MVP, allowing only one goal in three games as Minnesota Duluth claimed the title. ... Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe was scratched for the third consecutive game because of a shoulder injury. ... Andrew Dejardins' unsuccessful first period penalty shot was the second for the Sharks this season, and their second in a week. Tommy Wingels tried, and failed, to score on Jonathan Bernier of the Kings last Saturday in a 5-2 Sharks loss.
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