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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. San Jose

Minnesota looks to continue winning ways at Xcel Energy Center

by Tyler Savitsky /
The essentials

Who: San Jose Sharks (18-21-4) at Minnesota Wild (26-13-3)

Puck drop: 7:09 p.m. CT

Watch: Bally Sports North, FOX Sports GO 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

Minnesota and San Jose will take the ice for the second consecutive night when the two teams faceoff Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild took home two points on Friday night in a 3-2 victory, giving itself more breathing room from the team's outside the playoff bubble.

San Jose got on the scoresheet first on Friday, when Tomas Hertl put on a phenomenal move to skate into the Wild zone before beating Cam Talbot on the short side.

Minnesota was being outshot 6-1 in the game's opening nine minutes, but the Wild's fourth line got the team back on track.

After a Zach Parise dump-in and pressure from Nico Sturm, the Sharks had a costly pass in front of their net and Nick Bonino was able to find the puck and even the game at 1-1.

Two quick second period goals rallied Minnesota in the middle 20 minutes, first with Mats Zuccarello scoring right after a Victor Rask faceoff win 2:15 into the frame.

After a four game scoreless streak, Zuccarello now has three goals in the past two games. He has recorded 25 points in 29 games this season after missing the first month of the season due to injury.

Just 65 seconds after Zuccarello's goal, Minnesota doubled its lead on a Zach Parise goal.

Parise chased down a puck, before Nick Bonino found a racing Matt Dumba near the blue line, Dumba then found Parise right in front of the net to give the forward his sixth goal of the season.

"I mean, he's played 1,000 games in this league," Bonino said about Parise. "He knows where to be, he's always at the net. You know when you shoot it, he's gonna be there for rebounds, he's gonna be there for screens."

Since returning from the COVID list, Parise has recorded five points in five games and has had great chemistry being paired with Bonino and Sturm.

Evander Kane added a shorthanded goal for the Sharks in the third period, but the Sharks were unable to find the tying goal.

Video: Bonino, Wild hold off Sharks for 3-2 win

Minnesota is now 16-4-0 at Xcel Energy Center this season, tied for the third best winning percentage on home ice.

The Wild are currently in third place in the West Division with 55 points and 14 games remaining. They lead fifth place Arizona and sixth place San Jose by 12 and 15 points, respectively.

"I think every game is huge right now, it doesn't matter who you're playing," Cam Talbot said. "We've said it from the beginning of the year, every game this year is a four-point game, you're only playing against your division. But any time you can distance yourself from the teams trying to catch you, that's obviously in the back of your mind, but you want to go out there and put your best foot forward no matter who you're playing."

Video: Players Postgame vs San Jose

The Sharks have now lost four games in a row and five out of six, so if they want to make a run for the final seed, they will have to turn it around pretty quickly.

Saturday will be a historic game for one Sharks player nonetheless.

Forward Patrick Marleau will suit up in his 1,767th career game on Saturday, tying Gordie Howe's record for the most games played in NHL history.

For reference of how large that number is, Saturday will be the 1,554th regular season game in the Wild's history.

Marleau, who has scored at least 10 goals in each of his first 22 seasons, currently has four goals.

Evander Kane leads the Sharks in all offensive categories, registering 17 goals and 19 assists this season. Logan Couture ranks second with 14 goals, while Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc have both tallied 14 assists this season.

Goaltender Martin Jones saved 15 of 18 shots on Friday night. He is 15-11-2 this season, with a 3.14 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.

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