The Sharks started the game off playing composed hockey. Ben Eager filled the void where Dany Heatley normally plays on the second line due to a two game suspension for an elbow to the head of the Stars Steve Ott.
Jamal Mayers opened the scoring on what looked like an unassuming play. Mayers found his stride through the
neutral zone and took a touch pass from Joe Pavelski to break in on Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom. Mayers
quick backhand shot fooled the Wild goalie through the seven hole.
The lead and the momentum was short lived. While the Sharks were on their second power play of the game they
gave up the tying goal. John Madden was all alone against three Sharks but never gave up on the puck and got a
shot off from the slot beating Niemi between his arm and his body.
The Sharks almost got it back in the dying seconds of that power play when Patrick Marleau streaked down the left
side and wound up with a booming shot that hit the post.
The first was a good period for both teams and was evenly played. The shots on net were pretty much even and so
were the scoring chances.
The second period clearly belonged to the Wild's goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The Swede stopped 20 of 21 shots on net and the crew that decides what saves make the high light reels will have a plethora of choices to choose from. In fact at the end of the second period I can already give Backstrom the first contender of the game. Some of his best outings this year have come against San Jose and tonight was no exception.
Logan Couture showed that not all goals have to be pretty. Put the puck to the net is something all hockey players
hear from the time they step on the ice right up to the NHL level and the Sharks second marker of the night came from a bad angle shot that Minnesota's John Madden tipped into his own net. Couture's 27th of the season gave the home team their second lead of the game.
Once again, the Wild took the momentum right back less than two minutes later. Kyle Brodziak's 16th of the season was a beautiful goal that was set up by Martin Havlat.
The Wild are not a flashy high powered hockey team but they stick around in games and wait for their opponents to
make mistakes. They stay in it with brilliant goaltending and they take care of their own zone.
In the third the Sharks picked up where they left off in the second peppering the Wild netminder. The pressure
resulted in the Sharks fourth power play of the night. Patrick Marleau buried his 28th of the season and what
turned out to be the game winner on what was a fortuitous bounce.
Tonight's game was by no means a pretty game. The Sharks goals were far from it, but when you throw fifty shots
on net and hit the post three times some of them are going to go in, pretty or not. It's a numbers game.
The Sharks tied a season high for shots. They hit the fifty marker in Nashville earlier in the year.
The first contender from tonight's game we already mentioned but his forty-seven save performance deserves mentioning again. Niklas Backstrom was awarded the game's second star and he desreved it.
For San Jose Devin Setoguchi was a force tonight. He came away with only an assist but twice his dominating play down low drew penalties, he hit the post and pushed the pace.
Joe Pavelski has picked up his game as of late and had two assists tonight. The great thing about the Big Pavelski is even he is not playing well he is never a defensive liability.
Patrick Marleau was a contender tonight with the game winning goal while on a power play and had this to say after the game "It was a good time for the power play to step up. I thought we moved it around pretty good all night and got some good looks at the net."
Marleauhad plenty of opportunities to score but when it counted he delivered with his 28th of the season. The top line played as well as they have in some time. Joe Thornton also was a force tonight, but this time on the defensive end.
Tonights first pretender was Dan Boyle. Yes he did show a lot of courage to come back after flexing the body in ways that it shouldn't, but he was checking John Madden when the Wild snatched the momentum back while scoring shorthanded. If not for the return after injury we wouldn't have noticed him at all.
More will be expected from the snipers on the club in future games. The Wild don't pack a ton of scoring touch and that is why they won't make the playoffs. If the Sharks were playing a team with some more offense things would have been different.
Keep your stick on the ice,