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Wild rally in third again, this time against Sharks

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It would be hard to fault Minnesota Wild forward Kyle Brodziak for getting a little haughty. But that's not his style.

Brodziak scored twice in the third period to force overtime and the Wild scored twice in the shootout to get the extra point in a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

After being a healthy scratch for four of the Wild's first six games this season, Brodziak, playing his second game in a row in place of injured center Erik Haula, scored his first and second goals of the season 5:19 apart to tie the score at 3-3.

"It feels good for sure," Brodziak said. "I guess that's why you have to try and stay professional about it and make sure you stay ready for when you do get the chance to get back in the lineup. You want to be able to make the best of it. I'm just glad I got the opportunity."

After Joe Thornton scored his third goal of the season 1:37 into the third period, giving San Jose a 3-1 lead, Minnesota's third line of Brodziak, Thomas Vanek and Justin Fontaine worked a tic-tac-toe play to perfection. Fontaine passed from the half-wall to Vanek at the point, creating a seam between the defensemen that Brodziak skated through. Vanek one-touched a pass to Brodziak in front that he redirected over the glove of goaltender Antti Niemi at 5:13, pulling the Wild within one.

Vanek and Brodziak hooked up again at 10:32, capping a 2-on-1 break. Vanek fed a backhand saucer pass that Brodziak hammered out of midair and past Niemi, tying the game.

"He's an incredible passer," Brodziak said. "Got great vision and he sees the ice really well. I pretty much knew both of those were going to be right on my tape."

San Jose defenseman Brent Burns nearly ended the game in overtime, going coast-to-coast and going hard to the net with a quick forehand. The puck appeared to slip behind Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, but the referee ruled Burns had made incidental contact in the crease with Keumper before the puck crossed the goal line.

"I don't know. I thought it was a good goal," Burns said. "I just kind of got pushed into the net so I didn't really see it. I knew it was in. They said I pushed the goalie, but I don't know. Can't say that I agree."

Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville scored in the shootout for Minnesota, and Kuemper stopped Pavelski and Patrick Marleau to finish the win.

Wild forward Zach Parise shot wide to start the shootout, and a goal by Logan Couture put the Sharks ahead after the first round. Koivu used a backhand top-shelf move to tie it before a forehand wrist shot by Pominville beat Niemi. It was his seventh career game-deciding goal in the shootout.

The victory was Minnesota's second straight when trailing 3-1 in the third period. The Wild defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Tuesday by scoring three third-period goals.

"It's not something you want to make a habit out of, digging yourself into a hole," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It felt like we were chasing most of the game but I thought our game continued to get better as the game wore on."

The Sharks took the lead late in the first period. Rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller's shot from the half wall deflected off Parise and past Kuemper for his first NHL goal at 16:06.

San Jose went up 2-0 on Tommy Wingels' fifth goal of the season, a shot from the left circle that beat Kuemper at 4:20 of the second period.

"They're a very aggressive team with their defense and we were able to spring some guys in the first [period]," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "In the second, we weren't able to manage it as well and they weren't nearly as aggressive, so they kept us more in our zone."

Four minutes later, Koivu scored after a big shift from Minnesota's second line. The group maintained a heavy presence in the Sharks' zone until the puck came to Jason Zucker near the right post. He centered a pass to Koivu crashing in front for his second of the season at 8:40.

"I think that's when we really started to find our game," Yeo said. "Even though we fell behind 3-1, I think that we really started to come on strong."

Niemi made 18 saves in the second period alone and finished with 43 through overtime.

Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon left the game with an injury midway through the third period. After being knocked off the puck by Pavelski, Spurgeon slid awkwardly into the boards near the Sharks' blue line. Spurgeon did not return to the game and Yeo said he wouldn't have an update until Friday.

The injury further depletes Minnesota's blue-line depth. Jonas Brodin (hand), Christian Folin (illness) and Keith Ballard (illness) missed the game Thursday. Pominville, a right wing, even played some defense in overtime.

"When you lose guys, it's not always going to be the prettiest," Yeo said. "But you still have to find a way and tonight we did."

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