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The San Jose Sharks offense has been one of the league's best this season but has picked an inopportune time to play its worst.
The Sharks look to end their offensive slump Thursday night as they try to knock off one of the league's lowest-scoring teams when they host the Minnesota Wild.
One of six teams to score 200 goals this season, San Jose (42-11-9) has been limited to seven in the last five games - its fewest in a five-game stretch all season. Only two of those goals have not come on the power play.
The Sharks have been limited to three goals on 73 shots in dropping their last two games. Now they look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season as they continue to battle Detroit for the best record in the Western Conference.
Joe Thornton's power-play goal in the first period was all San Jose could manage Tuesday night in its most lopsided home loss of the season, 4-1 to Dallas.
"Some of the mistakes we made tonight were directly addressed," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, whose team dropped to 26-3-3 at HP Pavilion. "Either we did a very poor job as coaches addressing them or we didn't pick up on some of the cues that we need to in our zone. We'll go back to the drawing board. We'll try a different approach as coaches and make sure they get the message."
Patrick Marleau leads the team with 34 goals but has one in the last six games. Fellow winger David Setoguchi has tied a season high by going four consecutive games without scoring. Ryane Clowe has a career-high 21 goals this season, but only one in his last 13 games and he's pointless in four straight.
Injuries to Mike Grier (knee) and Jeremy Roenick (undisclosed) along with Wednesday's acquisition of winger Travis Moen and defenseman Kent Huskins from Anaheim for two prospects will reshuffle the team's lines. The Sharks also sent minor leaguer Kyle McLaren to Philadelphia for a sixth-round draft pick.
Top goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has missed the last three games with the flu, and Brian Boucher has given up seven goals in consecutive losses following a 2-1 win at Ottawa last Thursday. Nabokov will miss this game with a minor lower-body injury suffered in practice Tuesday.
While offense has only been a problem recently for San Jose, the Wild (30-27-5) have struggled in that area all season. No Western team has scored fewer than their 153 goals, including just six during their current four-game losing streak.
Despite Owen Nolan's return after missing three games with a fractured toe, the Wild were held to two goals or fewer for a fifth straight game Tuesday with a 4-2 loss at Vancouver.
Minnesota slipped to 11th in the West, but is within three points of seventh.
"We've got to stay in this race, put these last couple games behind us and get focused for the next one and make sure we're ready to play," Nolan said.
Minnesota's normally reliable defense has struggled through the first half of a six-game western road trip, allowing 11 goals in losses at Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Behind Niklas Backstrom and his 2.28 GAA, Minnesota has given up a conference-low 2.35 goals per game. But hours after signing a four-year, $24 million extension Tuesday night, Backstrom allowed four goals for a second straight start.
He had lost all six of his career starts against San Jose before winning the most recent matchup between the clubs, 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 31.
The Wild had lost the previous eight meetings overall. They've lost four straight in San Jose, including a 3-1 defeat on Nov. 4.