The Sharks look to extend their franchise-best road winning streak to 10 as they face the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Monday.
San Jose (21-12-5) has earned at least one point in 12 straight road games, having outscored opponents 35-17 during its 11-0-1 stretch. The Sharks have not lost in regulation on the road since a 2-1 defeat Oct. 27 at Columbus.
San Jose has won three straight—all on the road—since a 1-3-1 stretch. Its most recent win was one of its best offensive performances of the season as five different players scored a goal in a 5-2 win Saturday at Nashville, where the Sharks snapped a seven-game losing streak and won for the first time since Oct. 24, 2002.
“We have had to be really patient on the road,” said center Marcel Goc, who had one of San Jose’s goals. “When we are patient we don’t have the breakdowns.”
The Sharks have scored 95 goals—only seven teams have scored fewer—but have yielded a league-low 82. They’re very disciplined, having been shorthanded the second-fewest times in the NHL, but even when down a man, they’ve been excellent.
San Jose has killed off 87.1 percent of its penalties, the second-best rate in the league.
“We’re not putting up the offensive production we have had in the past, but at the same time our goals against average is one of the best in the National Hockey League,” said defenseman Craig Rivet. “We take pride in playing defense first on this team.”
Behind San Jose’s defense is goaltender Evgeni Nabakov, who has started every Sharks game. He leads the league in wins and is third with a 1.99 goals-against average.
He made 36 saves in the Sharks’ 4-1 victory against Minnesota on Dec. 11.
Nabokov has been in net for each of San Jose’s last four games against the Wild—all wins—and has posted a 0.75 GAA. The Sharks have won their last three in Minnesota.
The Wild (22-14-2) have won two straight and six of their last eight, including a 5-4 overtime victory Saturday over Edmonton. But getting their ninth win in 10 games against the Oilers wasn’t easy—they trailed 4-1 before scoring four unanswered goals.
“We just started working, and they packed it in a little bit,” said forward Brian Rolston, who had a goal and an assist. “They were a little fragile, and we kept going at ‘em and eventually we got the goals.”
Minnesota has one of the Western Conference’s best records despite having allowed three more goals than it’s scored. The Wild have allowed only 35 goals in their 22 wins, but have given up 67 in their 16 losses.
Having one of the league’s best power-play units has been a key to Minnesota’s success. The Wild convert 20.9 percent of their chances with the man advantage, and are scoring at a 34.1 percent clip over their last eight games— including five goals on nine chances in their last two contests.
Marian Gaborik, the team’s leading scorer with 19 goals, has six power-play goals. He has four goals and eight assists in 16 games against the Sharks, but hasn’t scored a goal in the past three.