ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—The San Jose Sharks seem to be playing their best hockey of the season—especially on special teams.
The Sharks scored two power-play goals and stopped the Minnesota Wild on five man-advantage situations for a 2-1 victory Friday.
“We’re all in sync now,” Sharks center Vincent Damphousse said. “The guys on the ice are all working well together, and this was a classic example of special teams winning a game.”
It was the fourth consecutive win for the Sharks, who are unbeaten in their last six (4-0-2).
The Wild, losers of four straight, held a players-only team meeting after the game.
“We’re frustrated,” Wild winger Andrew Brunette said. “Things aren’t going our way, and I don’t think we’ve handled it the right way as a team. Some things had to be said, and I hope we got the point.”
The Sharks dominated the opening period, outshooting Minnesota 10-2 and taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal. Brad Stuart’s shot from the blue line glanced off Mike Ricci’s skate and past Minnesota goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Ricci was credited with the goal, his fourth of the season.
For the Wild, who are 1-5-1 when trailing after one period, the slow start spelled doom.
“We’ve seen what (Minnesota’s) record is when they’re trailing, so we knew the importance of the first goal,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “We thought that the first period might determine the outcome of the game, and it turns out that it did.”
San Jose doubled its lead early in the second period with another man-advantage goal. Damphousse scored off a pass from Niko Dimitrakos.
But Minnesota countered with 11 shots on goal in the period and pulled within 2-1 on a goal by Brunette.
The Sharks held Minnesota to just five shots in the third period. San Jose goalie Vesa Toskala made 17 saves, while Roloson made 19 saves for Minnesota.
“We’ve got to fight through this,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “Last year, we had a lot of breaks at different times, and this year we know we’regoing to get breaks, but we’ve got to play too.”
Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov did not dress for the third consecutive game since injuring his groin in San Jose’s 5-0 win at Phoenix on Nov. 21. … Wild defenseman Filip Kuba recorded his 100th career point with an assist on Brunette’s goal. … San Jose defenseman Mike Rathje left the game in the third period after being hit in the face by the puck. A shot by Minnesota’s Christoph Brandner deflected off Ricci’s stick, hitting Rathje and cutting his cheekbelow the right eye. He is expected to require stitches for the cut.