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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Sharks 1

Staal scores twice as Minnesota jumps back ahead of Chicago in Central race

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Recap: SJS 1, MIN 3

Wild move to top of Central with win against Sharks

Eric Staal scored twice to help the Wild regain possession of first place in the Central Division with a 3-1 win against the Sharks

  • 04:02 •'s Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday night:

1. After missing each of the past three games, "Mumpsy and Mumpsy" clicked to give the Wild (42-15-6) a 1-0 lead 11 minutes into the game.

Zach Parise and Jason Pominville's recent battle with the mumps, combined with the Wild's bye week, meant that Sunday's game was the first time the two were on the ice in game action since Feb. 21, a span of 12 days. 

"I felt good. I felt like I had a lot of energy," Parise said. "I didn't really know which way it was going to go after having, basically, 10 days off."

"For sure, just getting some touches, getting on the ice ... I can't speak for him, but I'm sure he felt pretty good and I felt pretty good too," Pominville said.

Fortunately for the Wild, it didn't take them long to get their feet wet.

Granted the game's first power play after a boarding penalty to San Jose's Kevin Lebanc sent Minnesota's Christian Folin to the dressing room with an injury, the Wild made the Sharks pay.

Video: SJS@MIN: Parise redirects Pominville's feed for PPG

More than a minute into the advantage, Pominville gained control of the puck near the left wall and fired it netside, where Parise was camped on top of the crease.

Given too much space in front of the goal, Parise positioned himself for a beautiful between-the-legs redirection of Pominville's apparent pass for his 15th goal of the season.

"We were able to retrieve a lot of pucks on the first power play and were able to move it around pretty good," Pominville said. "Good play overall, he just stayed back door, I was able to fake a shot and slide it over to him and he got a good tip."

2. With the victory, the Wild's remarkable stretch of games without consecutive losses continued.

Sunday marked the four-month anniversary since the last time the Wild lost back-to-back games in regulation (Nov. 1 and 5 against Buffalo and Colorado). 

Minnesota improved to 28-3-2 this season when leading after 40 minutes and dealt the Sharks (38-19-7) their first regulation defeat in eight games and just their third in their past 21 overall.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau commented that he thought his team's defensive effort was perhaps its best of the season; high praise for a club which has surrendered the fewest goals in the Western Conference and second fewest in the NHL.

"I'm really proud," Boudreau said. "I thought the responsibility from everybody was really good."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. San Jose

After surrendering nine goals in back-to-back wins over Los Angeles and Winnipeg to start last week, the Wild has now given up just one goal in each of its past two games. 

"We left Columbus feeling pretty good about our game and what we need to do to successfully win a lot of games," said Wild center Eric Staal. "We got back to that pretty good tonight. They played strong defensively, too, and there wasn't a lot of room. That's going to be the case over the next few weeks."

It also gave the Wild the season series victory over San Jose, the Pacific Division leader. The clubs will meet one more time, in 16 days, right here at Xcel Energy Center.

3. How crazy was the Martin Jones nameplate save on Chris Stewart in the first period? 

With 7:15 remaining in the frame, Staal set up Stewart for a one-timer blast from the left faceoff dot. The shot got behind Jones, Stewart and his teammates raised their arms and Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" began blaring from the loudspeakers. 

Only one thing was missing: the referee's pointing hand signaling a goal.

Everyone stood around for a couple of seconds wondering what happened. Jones even stood up and prepared to sweep the puck out of his net, only to discover that it wasn't sitting in the cage.

"From my perspective, I just know it didn't go over [the net]," Stewart said. "It wasn't over the mesh, so I just assumed it was somewhere in the back of the net."

Video: Wild Reaction to Bizarre Jones Save

After further review, it turned out Stewart's blast whistled inside the back collar of Jones' jersey and came to a rest somewhere underneath his nameplate. Because Jones kept that part of his body out of the net, it was ruled no goal. 

"When he pulled it out of his neck, I don't know where it came from. It didn't cross the goal line, that's for sure," Stewart said.

"I've never seen that before. You'll never see that again," said Parise, who was standing next to the net when it happened. "At first, I thought it was out of play. I heard everybody cheering, so maybe it got stuck in the top of the net? I had no idea where it went."

"That's pretty funny. I mean, now that we won, it's pretty funny," Boudreau said. "I've never seen anything like that."

The line got a bit of redemption a couple of minutes later when Staal was the beneficiary of a spinning, behind-the-back feed by Matt Dumba to the slot, where he fired a forehand snapper past Jones for his 18th goal this season.
"It was a great play by [Dumba] there to get me some room. I had some time," Staal said. "It was one of those night where if sometimes it doesn't go my way and I stay with it I get rewarded. It was a nice job by a couple other guys making some good plays."

Loose pucks

• Minnesota improved to 16-3-2 following a loss of any kind this season, including 10 straight wins.

• Pominville has at least one point in 15 of his last 17 games, totaling four goals and 17 assists for 21 points since during that span.

• Minnesota has 16 power-play goals in its past 16 games on home ice and has scored on 30.7 percent of its power-play chances at Xcel Energy Center this season.

• Dumba's assist on Staal's goal was his 18th of the season, extending his career high.

• Attendance: 19,168

He said it

"These are just stupid things I think at home, and I'll probably change my mind in a week. Who knows? But it worked. I thought that line played well." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on putting both Chris Stewart and Zach Parise on their off-side hands

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs. San Jose

They said it

"It was a hard-fought game. We knew it would be a tough game in here. They came as advertised, they're very good, and we were not as good as them. So it was the proper result." -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer

Three stars

* Eric Staal

** Zach Parise 

*** Jared Spurgeon

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