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Kuemper, Parise power Wild past struggling Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Coming off back-to-back overtime losses, Minnesota Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper knew what he had to do after Zach Parise broke a scoreless tie with a goal at 4:41 of the third period against the San Jose Sharks.

"When we got the one, I was like now I need to get the shutout for my own sanity," Kuemper said.

He got it.

Kuemper made 25 saves for his sixth career shutout, and the Wild defeated the Sharks 2-0 at SAP Center on Saturday. Kuemper started his third straight game in place of injured Devin Dubnyk for the Wild (15-7-6), who were 1-9-1 in their previous 11 games at San Jose.

"It looked like another tight game, but that's just how we've been playing on the road here, tight defensively," Kuemper said. "Good, honest sticking-with-that, because when the goals aren't coming it's easy to start cheating and getting away from that. But we stuck with it; everyone did, and we got rewarded."

Parise scored his ninth goal of season and second game-winner. Mikael Granlund sent the puck from the left circle to a wide-open Parise in the low slot, and Parise flipped his own rebound over Jones' left pad. Neither Sharks defensemen, Paul Martin nor Brent Burns, was in front of the net, and Parise took advantage.

"We had a good forecheck going," Parise said. "They had control and then they turned it over. [Jason] Pominville had a good shot in front and then wheeled around the net. I saw Granlund had the full control and looked like they were all looking up-ice and no one saw me so I just went to the front of the net and he was able to find me."

Mikko Koivu scored an empty-net goal with 33.6 seconds left.

Martin Jones made 28 saves for the Sharks (14-14-1), who lost their sixth straight game and fell to 4-9-0 at home.

"It was a game where one mistake was probably going to win the game," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We can break it down any way you want. They made some mistakes we didn't capitalize on and they capitalized on one and that was the hockey game."

The Wild were coming a 2-1 defeat against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. But they showed no lack of energy, outshooting the Sharks 14-10 in the third period.

"I'm tired, so I can imagine what they feel like," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought the second period we were stretching our shifts out a little bit. I thought the guys had a real conscious effort in the third period to have real short shifts. It felt like as long as we had energy then we were in a good position. That discipline paid off in the third."

Looking for a spark, DeBoer shuffled his lines, splitting center Joe Thornton and captain Joe Pavelski for the first time this season. Pavelski skated with center Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau, while Tommy Wingels joined Thornton and Melker Karlsson. Midway through the second period, Karlsson moved to the third line, switching places with Joonas Donskoi.

The changes didn't help the Sharks' struggling offense.

"Drop six in a row, it gets frustrating," Pavelski said. "We've got to calm down a little bit and realize where we're at. A few teams have caught us when we had a chance to pull ahead a little bit. We have to go back to work, back to the drawing board and work out a few things.

"We've played hard at times, there hasn't been any quit in games so it's about getting over that hump and breaking this little funk we're in."

Minnesota is 4-0-3 in its past seven straight, thanks in large part to its defense. The Wild has allowed two or fewer goals in six of those seven games.

"We need to build from there," Koivu said. "That's our identity. I believe the rush will come, we will score more goals as long as we stay patient. Like I said, as a team, that's a good sign."

San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. The Sharks gave up a combined eight goals against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers without Vlasic.

Minnesota went nearly the first five minutes in the game without a shot but wound up outshooting San Jose 8-6 in a scoreless first period.

The Wild missed a prime scoring chance with 3:55 left in the period when Thomas Vanek got behind the defense, took a long stretch pass from Koivu and went in on a breakaway. Vanek fired a wrist shot from the slot, but Jones covered the puck.

The Sharks outshot Minnesota 9-8 in a scoreless second period. San Jose had an early power play and got two quality shots, the first by Burns from the slot and the second by Vlasic from the point, but Kuemper stopped both.

"I feel like I'm seeing [the puck] well," Kuemper said. "I feel like mentally I'm in a good focused state right now. A lot of that is how the guys are playing in front of me. They're giving me sight lanes and allowing me to see it and makes making clean saves a lot easier."

Late in the period, Karlsson got behind Koivu on a 2-on-1 rush, and Chris Tierney fed him a pass in the low slot, but he couldn't make contact with the puck. Defenseman Matt Dumba ripped a dangerous shot from the point with 17 seconds left in the second during the Wild's first power play, but Jones made a glove save.

Sharks rookie Ryan Carpenter made his NHL debut, centering the fourth line one day after being recalled from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.

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