Minnesota Wild (15-10-1) at San Jose Sharks (15-11-4)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 11, 2014, 10:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: San Jose Sharks -140 / Minnesota Wild +127 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
It was a much needed victory on Tuesday night for a Minnesota Wild club that has cooled considerably since their hot start. Minnesota has been up and down for a while now and they have been alternating wins and losses for what seems like an eternity. Tuesday’s come from behind victory over the New York Islanders continued the trend, but the Wild hope that this time they can build on it and start a winning streak. Trailing 4-1 heading into the third period the Wild got an early goal from Mikko Koivu that helped gave them some hope. Erik Haula cut the deficit to 4-3 with his third goal of the season at the 11:03 mark, and 45 seconds later it was Thomas Vanek who tied it. It has been noted just how difficult this season has been for Vanek and getting him going is going to be one of the keys to the season for the Wild. It was just Vanek’s third goal of the season. Later in the period another former Islander, Nino Niederreiter, scored the game winning goal to rally the Wild to the 5-4 victory. It wasn’t a great night for Niklas Backstrom but the Wild netminder did just enough to give Minnesota a chance to win. Now it’s time to see if the Wild can put a winning streak together because this up and down hockey isn’t going to do them any favors in the Western Conference. A trip that takes them to San Jose, Phoenix, and then Chicago before returning home for a four game home stand could give us a better understanding of just what type of team the Wild are this season and what their chances are at competing for a playoff spot. One thing that needs to change for the Wild is their 28th ranked power play this season that is operating at just 11.5 percent.
San Jose is in a very similar situation as the Wild are right now. They’re a club that really hasn’t done anything to differentiate themselves as a true contender or playoff team, but there’s clearly enough there if they can start playing some more consistent hockey. Winners of five of their last six games the Sharks hope that this recent surge is the start of things to come. San Jose returned the favor to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night after falling to Edmonton 2-1 on Sunday night. Back on home ice the Sharks got off to a quick start but allowed the Oilers to come right back. Joe Pavelski’s 13th goal of the season gave San Jose the lead and less than a minute later it was Barclay Goodrow with his first of the season. It’s amazing how the Sharks can really create these surgers when they’re on home ice and we saw it early on in this game. Edmonton rallied for a pair of goals and the two teams were tied 2-2 after 20 minutes of play. Logan Couture then added his 12th of the season to regain the lead for San Jose in the second period and Pavelski added his second of the night on the power play to double the advantage. Brent Burns finished the scoring for the Sharks and Alex Stalock made 25 saves in the 5-2 win. Unlike Minnesota the Sharks have had no such issues with the man advantage. San Jose is hitting at over a 24 percent clip on the power play this season, good for third in the league. Both teams possess strong penalty kills so special teams should be an important part of this hockey game on Thursday night.
With the way these two teams have played lately it would be hard to imagine the Wild stringing two consecutive wins together. San Jose did find a way to end Edmonton’s losing streak but getting the Wild on home ice should be just what the Sharks need to add another win to their record.