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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. San Jose

Wild tries to snap five-game skid, earn season sweep of Sharks

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: San Jose Sharks (42-23-7, 91 points, first place, Pacific Division) at Minnesota Wild (43-22-6, 92 points, second place, Central Division)

Puck drop: 7:38 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN;  Wild Watch Bar locationsNHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


At the rink

After a team day off on Monday to rest and reassess, the Minnesota Wild will be back on the ice tonight when it hosts the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center.

After a frustrating 5-4 loss in Winnipeg on Sunday, a game that saw the Wild claw back from four goals down in the second period, coach Bruce Boudreau verbalized his frustration in a terse 30-second post-game press conference.

Given 48 hours to cool off, Boudreau was able to smile about it on Tuesday. 

Video: Wild Pregame vs. San Jose

"When you're emotional, you never know what's going to come out of your mouth," Boudreau said. "I didn't want to say anything stupid. I thought it was much more appropriate to leave than to do something dumb."

The coach reiterated that, despite the frustration and the nagging presence of a five-game losing streak, he doesn't feel the team is far off from being able to turn things around. 

The Wild isn't doing a bunch of things wrong, he insisted, rather one small thing at a time. When the team plugs that hole, another one seems to open. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau Pregame vs. San Jose

"I don't [feel we're that far away], not at all," Boudreau said. "Nobody likes to lose, especially in any little stretch. 

"We do one little thing wrong and we lose to Carolina. We have another part our game not as good and we lose to the Rangers. [Then] we correct the first two things from the first two games and something else pops up [in Winnipeg]. Once we plug all these leaks, I think when we do start getting successful again, we're going to be a much better team rolling into April."

While Minnesota was unable to get a point out of Winnipeg on Sunday, it was able to get a couple of players back on the scoresheet. 

Charlie Coyle, whose game has been picking up recently, was rewarded with a very Coyle-esque goal in the second period that came from within a few feet of the net. 

For Coyle, it was his second goal in his past 16 games and his first with a goaltender present in the crease since Feb. 12. It hasn't been for a lack of opportunities, however, as Coyle has seemingly put himself in great spots routinely over the past handful of games.

Sunday, he was able to finish it off.

"I just want to be playing my game, it doesn't matter if I'm getting the points or what," Coyle said. "I just want to be playing the best player for our team so we can get out with two points at the end of the night. That's what I need to do continuously and the points will come. But you can't worry about that."

While not expected to post big offensive numbers, Chris Stewart lit the lamp twice against the Jets, scoring a goal for the first time since Jan. 31. When the Wild was playing its best hockey of the season, Stewart was contributing regularly in the offensive end.

That was certainly the case on Sunday, when Stewart's goals capped a four-goal second period in which the Wild outshot the Jets 21-6.

"That second period goes to show what we're capable of," Coyle said. "Why not start a game like that, when we're not down in a hole four-zip? We know what we're capable of, so there's no excuse to play any less than we were playing that period. It's up to us, it's in [the dressing room]. It's up to us to bring it right from the start tonight."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Martin Hanzal - Jordan Schroeder

Chris Stewart - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Gustav Olofsson

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Mikkel Boedker - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Tomas Hertl - Timo Meier

Micheal Haley - Daniel O'Reagan - Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell


The opponent

After playing their past six games on home ice, the San Jose Sharks are on the front end of a crucial set of road games. The Sharks are in the midst of an eight-game stretch where they will play just one game at home, a span that began Monday night in Dallas. After Tuesday's game in St. Paul, San Jose will go back to Dallas for its second game there in five nights. The Sharks enter Tuesday's contest on a three-game losing streak, having scored a total of two goals in that stretch. The Wild won both of the first two meetings with the Sharks, including a 3-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center 16 days ago -- a game that was one of Minnesota's most complete efforts of the season.


Connections

• Wild forward Charlie Coyle was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft. 

• Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2003 NHL Draft and had 183 points in 453 games with the Wild from 2003-11.

• Sharks defenseman Justin Braun is from Vadnais Heights and played high school hockey at White Bear Lake.

• Sharks defenseman Paul Martin is an Elk River native who played three seasons for the University of Minnesota.

• Sharks forward Joel Ward made his NHL debut with the Wild in 2006-07 and played 11 games for Minnesota.


Playoff push

Minnesota's magic number for a postseason berth is down to four points (combined Wild points with lost points by the Los Angeles Kings) with 11 games remaining on the schedule. The Wild could clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as soon as Thursday, should results go in its favor.

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