The Minnesota Wild lost only one game in October last season—and ended up in the Western Conference finals several months later.
Coming off their first win of the season, the Wild are hoping to put together another strong start as they face the struggling San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center.
The fourth-year Wild ended a couple of years of frustration against the Rangers on Friday by beating New York for the first time, 5-3. The win came just two days after Minnesota, which is still without restricted free agent holdouts Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis, opened the season with a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I am very happy with this game,” said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, whose team wasted seven power-play chances against Chicago. “We did a tremendous job defensively.”
Minnesota went 8-1-2 in October last season en route to a surprising spot in the Western Conference finals, a series they ended up losing to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
“This is the time of the year when you look for any points possible,” said Sergei Zholtok, who had three assists against the Rangers.
Filip Kuba and Matt Johnson, who had just three goals last season, scored 28 seconds apart in the second period, and Brad Bombardir scored the go-ahead goal later in the period for Minnesota, which has lost just once in the last eight meetings with San Jose (5-1-2).
“We were just able to battle back with the typical character of this hockey club,” said Bombardir, who scored just one goal last season.
San Jose made it two straight losses to begin the season by dropping a 3-2 decision to Calgary on Saturday.