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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at San Jose

Three-game trip to California commences Thursday at SAP Center against the Sharks

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (33-26-7) at San Jose Sharks (29-33-4)

Puck drop: 9:38 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Wild begins a three-game trip to the West Coast on Thursday night when it plays the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.

The game marks the third and final meeting of the season between the Wild and Sharks, with San Jose scoring a pair of victories so far.

In the first matchup, the Sharks opened up a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes, then held leads of 5-1 and 6-2 before seeing the Wild rally for three goals in the third period to draw within a goal with 4:35 remaining in regulation. Minnesota had several quality chances to tie the game but couldn't find the equalizer.

It was a much different game in St. Paul last month, when the two teams were scoreless into the third period. Dylan Gambrell scored 3:08 into the final frame and Melker Karlsson added an empty-net goal in the final seconds for a 2-0 victory in Dean Evason's debut as the Wild's interim coach.

Since that game, Minnesota has posted a 6-2-0 record, including a perfect 4-0 mark away from Xcel Energy Center.

Wild goaltender Alex Stalock, a former Shark, continued his red-hot play of late, making 37 saves in the victory over the Predators. The game was his fifth consecutive start and his fourth victory during that stretch

Stalock, who has already surpassed his career highs in games played, starts, wins and shutouts, is likely to start again Thursday and a victory would be his 20th of the season. 

Over his past 14 starts since Jan. 16, Stalock is 10-3-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

San Jose is a perfect 3-0 to start its current six-game homestand, securing victories against New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Toronto. The Sharks have scored five goals in each of their past two victories and have outscored their opponents by a 13-4 margin in those wins. 

Their current winning trend comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak. All of this has come against Eastern Conference foes; San Jose hasn't played a team from the West since its win in St. Paul on Feb. 15. Six of its next seven games will come against Central Division foes, however.

San Jose is in the midst of a disappointing, injury-plagued season that has seen a number of its top players go down for the season. Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson are among those sidelined currently. Patrick Marleau was traded to Pittsburgh at the Trade Deadline last month.

The Sharks' current winning streak hasn't done much to help its fortunes in the standings. San Jose sits 12 points out of a wild card spot and 11 points behind the Wild.

Brent Burns leads San Jose with 44 points and his 32 assists is the most among active players on the club. Evander Kane has a team-high 24 goals while Timo Meier is the only other Shark with at least 20 goals. 

The Sharks' three-game winning streak has come on the back of goaltender Martin Jones, who has stopped 76 of 80 shots in those wins. He's 17-19-2 in 39 games this season (38 starts) with a 2.97 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.

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