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Sharks cool off Wild with 3-1 win

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- The Sharks and Wild held a hockey reunion Thursday night at HP Pavilion when Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley and San Jose's Brent Burns and Martin Havlat faced their former teams for the first time since trading places in two major offseason deals last June.

The Sharks left HP Pavilion with new-look bragging rights after a 3-1 victory, thanks in large part to Patrick Marleau's two power-play goals and a solid performance by goaltender Antti Niemi.
Marleau scored twice in the second period, and forward Torrey Mitchell added a goal to snap Minnesota's five-game winning streak.

Kyle Brodziak scored his third goal of the season in the third period for the Wild.

Niemi stopped 21 shots and improved to 4-0-0 all-time against Minnesota. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, coming off a 41-save shutout against Calgary on Tuesday night, stopped 33 shots.
Burns, who came to the Sharks for Setoguchi, prospect Charlie Coyle and a No. 1 draft pick, had an assist and did his part in clamping down on the Wild, which managed just 22 shots.

"It wasn't as weird as I thought it could have been," Burns said of facing his former team. "I think we always had a pretty competitive group within each other. Just like a scrimmage at the start of the year and training camp. It was fun.

"It was good to get it over. The first one's going to be weird. I'm sure the first one in (Minnesota) will be the same. To get the two points, it feels pretty good."

Minnesota did plenty of damage to itself by spending so much time in the box, earning five penalties in the first two periods and six overall. The Wild fell to 1-8-1 in their past 10 games at the Shark Tank, and Backstrom's record in San Jose dropped to 1-6-1.

"There were two glaring differences in the game for me between our team and their team," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "One was the discipline. Obviously we took more penalties then they did, and (at) bad times to give them a chance to take over control of the game. The second was (that) they were much stronger on the puck than we were. I thought we had way too many turnovers. The reality is they played their game much better than we did."

San Jose improved to 9-4-1 overall and won for the eighth time in their past 10 games. Against Minnesota, Mitchell said he thought the Sharks had added motivation to help Burns and Havlat beat their former team.

"We wanted to play for them, for sure," Mitchell said. "I don't know the feeling, but for those guys, whenever you play against your old team you kind of want to shove it back in their face a little bit. Those guys played well, and it was good to get the win for them."

Minnesota came into the game allowing just 1.79 goals per game, second-best in the NHL. The Wild had outscored its opponents 13-3 during its five-game streak. But after a scoreless first period, the Sharks struck for three goals against one of the NHL's stingiest defenses.

Marleau put the Sharks ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal at 2:34. Defenseman Dan Boyle launched a long shot from the point that Backstrom blocked, but Wild defenseman Justin Falk couldn't control the puck, and Marleau made him pay. Racing in from near the left circle, Marleau got the puck and quickly snapped a shot past Backstrom.

Marleau's goal ended a streak of 27 penalty kills for the Wild, including 21 during their previous five games – all wins – and three against the Sharks.

Marleau struck again on the power play at 15:34. Ryane Clowe hit Marleau in the right circle with a cross-ice pass, and Marleau beat Backstrom with a wicked slap shot. Clowe earned an assist, and so did Burns.

Marleau said the Sharks were well aware of how good the Wild's penalty kill had been coming into the game, and they got a taste of that in the first period when they went 0-for-3 on the power play.

"We knew they were doing good, and they did a good job on us early," Marleau said. "I got a lucky break there on the first one. The goalie ‘D' kind of misplayed it a little bit and I was able to get a shot off, and the other one was just a great play by Clowie to get a one-timer."

Heatley said the Wild got away with taking a flurry of penalties Tuesday night in its 3-0 win over Calgary. Not this time.

"If you keep taking them and keep giving the power play chances to score, eventually they're going to score no matter what you do," Heatley said. "They have a good power play over there, and they made us pay a couple of times.

"I felt tonight that we worked hard, but we made too many mistakes, and I thought we gave them that game. Obviously the penalties, turnovers, and our power play didn't produce."

The Sharks, who have been struggling to kill penalties, killed all three power plays they faced Thursday night, and they scored on two of five power plays.

"We haven't had any issues with our power play," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We're not painting a Picasso. It's about scoring goals, and our power play did that again for us. That part of it's good. We knew they were going to have a very good penalty kill. We found a way to beat it. And that's rewarding.

"The penalty kill on our behalf did a good job. We limited their opportunities. They're a good team. They're going to get some good looks. But we did execute some things we wanted to following our practices."

Mitchell made it 3-0 San Jose at 18:39 in the second, beating Backstrom with a slap shot from the top of the right circle for his first goal of the season. Michal Handzus made it all possible by winning a faceoff from Brodziak and getting the puck to a wide-open Mitchell.

"Zus is so good on faceoffs," Mitchell said. "He saw something and said, ‘Line up here and one-time it.' I said, ‘Yes sir.' Worked out great. The rest is history."

Mitchell said he felt that getting a three-goal lead late in the second period deflated the Wild.
"Two goals, you're still in it. Three, you're starting to doubt yourself," Mitchell said. "It was a really big one for us. That was huge for us."

The two former Sharks, as well as the two ex-Wild players, came out full of energy.

Setoguchi had been skating on the second line, but he started the game at left wing and spent the first shift with center Mikko Koivu and Heatley before returning to his usual spot.

Just 6:24 into the game, Heatley knocked Boyle to the ice hard, earning an interference penalty. Shortly after that, Heatley was roundly booed by Sharks fans when he appeared on the big screen over center ice. Some Sharks fans booed Heatley whenever he had the puck from then on.

Setoguchi drew a tripping penalty on Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, then later was sent to the box after tripping Murray.

"It was fun," Mitchell said of playing against Setoguchi, his former roommate. "He slashed me a couple times. I got out there a few times against him so it was fun. He was chirping a little bit. I had a couple things to say. So it was fun. We went out to dinner last night. We knew it would be all business today. It was good to get the two points and the bragging rights for a little bit."

Burns nearly picked up an assist in the first period on a beautiful pass through traffic from the right circle to Joe Thornton, just left of the crease, but Wild defenseman Nate Prosser blocked Thornton's shot. Burns and Havlat each had a first-period shot, and Burns tallied one hit.

McLellan juggled his final two defensive pairings. Colin White moved up to skate with Burns, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic moved down to pair with Justin Braun.
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