Niklas Backstrom cooled off the NHL's hottest trio
San Jose's line of Joe Thornton between Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley had been on a tear since being reunited last week. But neither the Sharks' big line nor their teammates could get a puck past Backstrom on Tuesday night, as he made 36 saves in Minnesota's 1-0 victory at the Xcel Energy Center.
Andrew Brunette scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal 13:19 into the second period. Backstrom did the rest.
"All over the ice, we played a smart game," Backstrom said. "We're playing some good hockey, and we have to keep building like this."
The Sharks held an 18-4 shots advantage midway through the second period, but found themselves trailing after Brunette scored during a two-man advantage.
"Sometimes the shot clock doesn't really tell the whole story," Wild defenseman John Madden said. "They had some power plays and have some guys that can find lanes and get pucks to the net. They're a shoot-and-crash team."
Thornton, Heatley and Marleau were shut down as Backstrom recorded his 20th career shutout and first since March 3, 2010, at Calgary.
"We had a few good looks, but there wasn't an abundance of second and third chances. He did a good job," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said.
The Wild killed five power plays, highlighted by a key stop with 7 minutes remaining in the third. The Sharks entered as the top power-play team in the NHL at 31.6 percent.
Overall, Sharks coach Todd McLellan seemed pleased with his team's play, except for the power play.
"That's the one area where I was disappointed," he said. "It looked like we had a lot of hoping instead of knowing. We were just a bit off."
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Wild against the Sharks -- and gave Backstrom a rare win against a team he's never fared well against. Backstrom entered the game with a 2-7-3 career record and a 3.19 goals-against average against the Sharks. But he made several key saves on Sharks power plays, including denying Pavelski in the third.
After starting slow, the Sharks had won four of their previous five and scored 20 goals in the four wins.
"In an 82-game season, you're going to have five or seven games that you throw away because you're just that bad," McLellan said. "Tonight wasn't one of those nights. I thought we played well, but Backstrom was better."
The Wild had just six goals in their last four games, but managed to do enough to earn another important win against a quality opponent -- they beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 last Thursday.
Brunette got the game's only goal by taking a cross-crease pass from Martin Havlat and lifting the puck over goalie Antero Niittymaki. Brunette had fanned with an open net seconds earlier, and looked relieved after making the most of his second chance.
The power-play goal was the Wild's second in their last 20 chances.
Niittymaki made his third straight start and stopped 15 shots.
Material from wire services was used in this report