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game recap

Wild lose to Sharks but clinch playoff berth

San Jose's Reimer makes 29 saves in shutout, Minnesota gets in postseason with Colorado loss

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Moments after losing 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild were sullen and quiet in their dressing room at Xcel Energy Center.

Then the Wild learned they clinched their fourth consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Colorado Avalanche lost 4-3 to the Nashville Predators.

Just like that, the pressures of a four-game losing streak and a week of scoreboard-watching vanished into thin air.

Video: SJS@MIN: Couture knocks puck down, beats Dubnyk

"It's nice to get that over with," said Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who had 17 saves. "It doesn't make you feel any better [about the loss] right now, but it's been talked about for the last week. It's nice to get it out of the way, and we can shift our focus. I don't know if that was affecting what we were doing, but it doesn't have to anymore."

The Wild have scored five goals during the four-game skid, which comes after a season-high six-game winning streak.

"If you get in, you get in ... that's the bottom line," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "We don't want to have to rely on someone else to lose to get in. We've got a lot of work that we need to do. There's just some areas of our play that aren't good. That's inexcusable in Game 81, when we're trying to prepare for the playoffs. You can't play the last four games the way we have. Right now, that's not good."

Minnesota (38-32-11, 87 points), which finishes its regular season at home against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, will be the second wild card in the Western Conference.

"I'm excited. I'm kind of disappointed how everyone is saying we're backing into the playoffs," Wild coach John Torchetti said. "How do you back into the playoffs going [15-10-1]? You don't do that. The guys have done a great job. I'm proud of them. They could have folded when I got here too, so I'm really proud of them."

Video: SJS@MIN: Marleau whips a wrister top-shelf

Patrick Marleau scored two goals for the Sharks, and goaltender James Reimer made 29 saves for the 14th shutout of his NHL career.

San Jose (45-29-6, 96 points), which has clinched a playoff berth, is three points behind the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division. The best the Sharks can finish is second place because the Kings and Ducks play each other in Los Angeles on Thursday.

It was San Jose's 28th win on the road, the most in their history and tied for second-most in NHL history behind the Detroit Red Wings' 31 in 2005-06. The Sharks, who finish the regular season with two home games (Thursday, Winnipeg Jets; Saturday, Arizona Coyotes), will have the best road record in the NHL (28-10-3).

"I'm proud of the group. It's an accomplishment," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're all here to try and win a Stanley Cup. That's the big prize, but I think it's a great accomplishment what they did today and through the season setting the road record, considering our travel and the type of miles we put on compared to some other teams. To be able to do that, I think, is a testament to how these guys prepare themselves and the grittiness of the group."

Video: SJS@MIN: Reimer stones Niederreiter from close range

It was Reimer's third shutout in eight starts with the Sharks since being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27. Reimer is 6-2-0 with San Jose.

"[Reimer] was really good tonight, and we kind of fed off that," DeBoer said. "We got a couple timely goals, that's been our recipe all year on the road. Our special teams were good. It all worked."

Logan Couture scored a goal, and defenseman Brenden Dillon had two assists for the Sharks.

San Jose took an early lead when Couture, on an extended shift in the Minnesota zone, grabbed the puck out of the air, dropped it to his stick in front of the goal, and jammed it past Dubnyk for his 15th goal at 4:43 of the first period.

A power-play goal early in the second pushed the Sharks lead to 2-0. Couture shot wide of the net from the point, and the puck ricocheted off the end wall to Marleau for a backhand flip that eluded Dubnyk glove side at 5:31.

"It's nice to get a couple on the board, but obviously there's a couple games left," Marleau said. "I have to stay sharp and have some good habits, and I think the biggest thing for all of us is to win battles. Win those little puck battles, those little details, and if we stay sharp on those, then we're fine going into the playoffs."

Marleau scored his second of the game on a snap shot from the right circle with 1:45 remaining in the third period.

Video: Marleau scores twice in 3-0 win over the Wild

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