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First-place Wild welcome in Sharks

by Dan Rosen /

SHARKS (13-10-6) at WILD (17-10-2)


Last 10: San Jose 4-4-2; Minnesota 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the clubs this season.

Big story: The Wild are red-hot and hoping to stay that way. They have won four in a row and six of their last seven, with the lone loss coming against the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks will be trying to win their second straight game for only the second time since they started the season 7-0.

Team Scope:

Sharks: They're coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers. It was one of those gutsy, come-from-behind wins that could spark a team into a hot streak.

The Sharks were down 3-1 early in the third period, but Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels scored less than three minutes apart to tie the game. It stayed that way until the shootout, when Dan Boyle won it for San Jose in the third round.

Couture scored two goals in the game and is now up to 14 for the season.

The Sharks are eighth in the Western Conference heading into the games Friday night.

"To win the way that we were able to and come back with two goals in the third, hopefully that can get us going in the right direction," Couture said. "We needed something. We need all the points we can get right now. We need to find ways to get points every single night right now."

Wild: After a slow start to the season, the Wild have things going in the right direction. They have won four in a row, including a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

They have scored 18 goals during the four-game winning streak. By comparison, the Wild scored only 23 goals over 12 games in February.

"We expect to win now," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "Early on we had that doubt. Now we expect to win and we're holding each other accountable. We know what we're capable of. We know what each guy's capable of. Now we're expecting it and it really shows."

Niklas Backstrom also deserves credit for the turnaround in Minnesota. He's made 71 saves over the last two games and has his goals-against average down to 2.32, his save percentage up to .917.

The Wild are first in the Northwest Division.

Who's hot: Couture scored twice against the Oilers for his second two-goal game in the past four games. … Wild forward Devin Setoguchi scored twice against the Red Wings, giving him six goals during a five-game point-scoring streak.

Injury report: San Jose goalie Thomas Greiss (neck) and forward Tim Kennedy (undisclosed) are on injured reserve. Forward Ryane Clowe has been battling a shoulder injury. … Minnesota forward Mike Rupp (lower body) and defenseman Tom Gilbert (undisclosed) are day-to-day. Goalie Josh Harding (illness) is out.

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