Already without Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, the San Jose Sharks learned they would also be without leading scorer Erik Karlsson and leading goal-scorer Evander Kane. They adjusted by playing a tight game in front of goaltender Martin Jones to win for the fourth time in five games.
Jones stopped 39 shots for his first shutout of the season, and Dylan Gambrell scored his third goal for San Jose in a 2-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Melker Karlsson added an empty-net goal.
Erik Karlsson, the defenseman who leads the team with 34 assists and 40 points, is out for the rest of the season after breaking his thumb in Friday’s win at Winnipeg. Kane, who has 21 goals, was suspended three games for elbowing Jets defenseman Neal Pionk in the same game.
“Facing the injuries that we are facing, I think that little bit of adversity and Jonesy coming in there and doing the job, I know they wanted to play hard for him,” San Jose interim coach Bob Boughner said. “I thought that we really defended well. … I think it’s a heck of a last couple days. Two tough buildings with teams that are fighting hard for a playoff spot.”
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Alex Stalock made 19 saves for Minnesota, which lost its first game under interim coach Dean Evason a day after firing Bruce Boudreau.
“We liked what we did as far as how we prepared and our energy,” Evason said. “We liked our attempts at the net. I think we had 40 shots and 70-something attempts at the net. We were trying to do the right thing, so we like that part of our game. You're just never pleased when the results aren't there.”
The Sharks won 3-2 in Winnipeg the previous evening and the Wild, who started the day three points behind Arizona for the final wild card in the Western Conference, hoped the coaching change would spark a run to the playoffs.
General manager Bill Guerin made the move to fire Boudreau, who was 158-110-35 in three-plus seasons with Minnesota, following a shootout loss at home on Thursday to the New York Rangers in which the Wild surrendered a two-goal, third-period lead.
Minnesota had won seven of its past 11 games during a home-heavy stretch under Boudreau. A day later, the Wild finished a stretch of 18 out of 22 games at home with another lackluster effort against San Jose.
“We’re comfortable with Deano,” Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno said. “He did a great job tonight with the bench and everything. It is what it is. In the situation that we’re in, we’re fighting for our lives and we’re still in our minds a playoff team and just tough to not get this one.”
The Sharks, who are 11-12-2 under Boughner, have started to find their way even as injuries have taken out many key players. Couture has missed 13 games because of a broken left ankle. Now, Karlsson and Hertl are out for the season.
Gambrell is trying to make the most of his opportunity as one of the fill-ins.
He scored his first goal since Nov. 30, a span which includes a stint in the minors, just over 3 minutes into the third period. San Jose defenseman Brent Burns flipped a shot on net that deflected off Gambrell and past Stalock.
“I think we just keep doing what we’re doing,” Gambrell said. “Guys are really coming together in the locker room. Really supporting each other on the ice. Just working for each other.”
Jones, who’s seen his playing time diminished behind Aaron Dell, made the goal stand up even as Minnesota outshot the Sharks 39-21
“Pretty gutsy win last night and tonight with another two guys down,” Jones said. “That was huge.”
NOTES: Jones had one win in his previous 11 games and had allowed more than three goals in seven of them. ... San Jose is 8-7-1 under Boughner since the calendar turned to 2020. ... Evason is getting his first opportunity as an NHL coach. He was an assistant under Boudreau the past two seasons after spending six seasons as a coach in the American Hockey League. Evason played two seasons with the Sharks. ... San Jose recalled D Jacob Middleton from the AHL after placing Karlsson on injured reserve. ... Minnesota was 11-3-2 previously when tied after two periods.
Sharks: Return home against Florida on Monday.
Wild: Get a three-day break and play at Vancouver on Wednesday.
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