Zach Parise and Ryan Suter each had a goal and assist and the Minnesota Wild extended their mastery on the road, beating the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Thursday night.
Minnesota won its sixth consecutive road game and moved ahead of Vancouver for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Sharks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, got goals from Stefan Noesen and Joe Thornton.
Alex Stalock, a former Shark, made 40 saves in the net for the Wild on a night Minnesota was outshot 42-27.
“Any time you’re playing against old friends, it’s a ton of fun,” Stalock said. “I love it, it’s a test. … You play against guys you used to practice with, you come up through the American League with. It’s quite a journey.”
The game was played in front of the Sharks’ smallest home crowd of the season (14,517), on the same day that Santa Clara County officials recommended the team cancel the game due to growing concerns over the coronavirus.
“The fans who were here were loud. They were into the game and energized,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “That’s really all you ask. It’s hard to sell out a building when you’re having a down year, and that’s what we have.”
Minnesota snapped a 1-1 tie and took control with goals in the second period by Parise and Alex Galchenyuk.
Galchenyuk gathered a loose puck and scooped it past Sharks goalie Martin Jones midway through the second to put Minnesota ahead. Three minutes later, Parise received a pretty pass from Luke Kunin and scored to make it a 3-1 game.
Parise has scored goals in four consecutive games, heating up as the Wild try to make a playoff push with 15 games left.
“It almost felt like playoff hockey a couple games ago,” Galchenyuk said. “It’s been a lot of fun. A lot of pressure, but as a group we’re handling it real well and just enjoying it.”
Thornton’s goal midway through the third brought San Jose within one, but the Sharks couldn’t pull even against Stalock.
“He made some scrambling saves and that's what he's good at,” Noesen said. “We just couldn't get an equalizer.”
The Wild opened the scoring when Suter’s slap shot from just inside the blue line beat Jones in the first period.
San Jose tied it with about five minutes left in the period when Noesen redirected a shot from Noah Gregor to make it 1-1.
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County reached 20 on Thursday, county health officers pushed for the cancellation of events that would attract large crowds, including Sharks games.
But the team said late in the afternoon that the game would be played.
“We will be evaluating further upcoming events in the coming days,” the Sharks said in a statement. “SAP Center undergoes a rigorous cleaning procedure after each and every event, with particular attention paid to high-traffic, high public-contact areas.”
NOTES: Wild center Eric Staal, second on the team with 47 points, missed the game because of a death in his family. He’s day-to-day. … Forward Kevin Fiala entered the night with a team-record five-game multi-point streak. … Sharks forward Joe Thornton played in his 1,633rd career game, leaving him two behind Scott Stevens for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time list.
Wild: Play at Los Angeles on Saturday.
Sharks: Host Ottawa on Saturday.
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