San Jose Sharks Defeat Minnesota, 4-3

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Sharks Clamp Down, Beat the Wild

(Sports Network) - Devin Setoguchi tallied twice and Benn Ferriero scored the winner in the third period as San Jose topped Minnesota, 4-3, at HP Pavilion.

Logan Couture also scored and Patrick Marleau added two assists for the Sharks, who have taken four in a row. Antti Niemi earned the win with 23 saves.

Mikko Koivu picked up a pair of power-play scores for the Wild, whose three- game win streak came to an end. Niklas Backstrom allowed four goals on 42 shots in the loss.

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Minnesota Wild Enter Shark Tank In San Jose Tonight

(Sports Network) - The Sharks have won three straight games since their longest losing streak of the season. The way the Wild have played as of late, earning a fourth consecutive victory tonight may prove challenging.

Minnesota and San Jose both look to extend three-game winning streaks and hopefully pick up some ground in the playoff race this evening at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks dropped six straight games from Jan. 3-13 before rebounding with three straight wins. Their latest may have been the biggest as they knocked off the Western Conference-leading Canucks, 2-1, in a shootout on Thursday.

Logan Couture scored his team and NHL-rookie leading 21st goal of the season and Joe Pavelski had the lone goal of the shootout. Couture's tally came during the second period, when San Jose unleashed a club road record 25 shots.

"I thought we carried the play for the second and third period, and in overtime, so it was a good game. Good to get two points," said Sharks forward Joe Thornton.

Antti Niemi made 36 saves and was backed up by University of British Columbia goaltender Jordan White, who signed a one-game amateur tryout after Antero Niittymaki suffered a groin injury in morning skate that landed him on injured reserve.

Forwards Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood both made their San Jose debuts and John McCarthy also returned to the lineup after missing 17 games with an upper-body injury. They helped to counter the losses of Ryan Clowe (ankle) and Scott Nichol, who served the first contest of his four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Phoenix defenseman David Schlemko on Monday.

San Jose is tied with Minnesota for ninth in the Western Conference with 53 points, one back of both Colorado and Chicago. The club can match its longest win streak of the season tonight that was set from Dec. 16-23, but has won just once in its last seven home games.

The Sharks draw a stiff challenge tonight in the Wild, who have outscored their opponents, 14-1, over their three-game win streak and have won seven of their last 10 overall.

Minnesota is coming off Wednesday's 6-0 rout of Calgary in which Niklas Backstrom returned from a nine-game absence due to a hip injury to post a 37- save shutout, his second of the season and 21st of his career.

Martin Havlat scored twice and had an assist, Kyle Brodziak had a career-high three helpers and John Madden, Chuck Kobasew and Cal Clutterbuck each had a goal and an assist.

"There's no gimmes around the league," said Minnesota head coach Todd Richards. "We've won three, we've defended really well, our goalie's played well. It feels good."

Minnesota has won the first two contests of a four-game road trip to improve to 13-7-3 on the road. The club won just 13 games total as the guest last year.

Backstrom is likely to get the start tonight and should be backed up by Jose Theodore, who has been out with a hip injury. Fellow netminder Anton Khudobin, who notched his first career hat trick last Sunday versus the Canucks, was sent back to Houston of the American Hockey League.

Backstrom is 4-7-3 with a 2.95 goals-against average lifetime versus the Sharks, but has been in net for both victories over them this year. That includes a 36-save shutout in Minnesota on Nov. 2 and another 5-3 home victory on Dec. 29.

The Wild had lost five straight to the Sharks heading into the season, but have still lost two straight and six of their last seven in San Jose.

Niemi has faced the Wild just once before, posting a 21-save shutout.

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Backstrom, Havlat Lead Wild Past Flames, 6-0

(Sports Network) - Niklas Backstrom posted 37 saves for his second shutout of the season as the Minnesota Wild handled the Calgary Flames, 6-0.

Martin Havlat had two goals and an assist while John Madden, Chuck Kobasew and Cal Clutterbuck each had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who have won three in a row. Mikko Koivu also lit the lamp for Minnesota, which has outscored the opposition 14-1 during its streak. Kyle Brodziak also tallied three assists on the night, having assisted on both of Havlat's goals and also assisting on Clutterbuck's goal that opened the scoring for the third period.

Miikka Kiprusoff allowed all six goals on 24 shots for the Flames, who have dropped their past two and six of eight.

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Minnesota Wild Conclude Season Series With Calgary Flames Tonight

(Sports Network) - A pair of Northwest Division foes that are fighting to get into the playoff picture will meet tonight in Calgary, as the Flames host the Minnesota Wild at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Wild and Flames are third and fourth, respectively, in the Northwest Division and are separated by five points in the standings. With 51 points on the year, Minnesota is tied for ninth in the West and is just three points behind the conference's final postseason berth.

Calgary, meanwhile, is 14th in the West, but is still just eight points in back of a potential playoff spot.

Tonight's divisional battle is also the regular-season finale between these clubs. Calgary has taken three of the five encounters this year, but the Wild still boast eight victories in the last 12 meetings overall.

Minnesota has also won four of its last five in Calgary and has split a pair of matchups at the Saddledome this year.

The Flames had a two-game win streak halted Monday in Montreal, but the overtime loss to the Canadiens also marked Calgary's fifth straight game with a point. The 2-0-3 stretch is the longest point streak for the Flames this season.

Calgary dropped a 5-4 decision to the Habs when P.K. Subban scored 66 seconds into overtime at the Bell Centre. In the extra session, Scott Gomez dished to Subban in the right circle and the rookie defenseman let go a wrister over the shoulder of Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson.

Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla, Ales Kotalik and Alex Tanguay found the back of the net for the Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff was replaced by Karlsson after surrendering four goals on 17 shots. Karlsson made 11 saves.

Kiprusoff has excellent career numbers against Minnesota and is expected to start tonight. The Finnish veteran is 25-13-4 with a tie and a 1.95 GAA in 43 career games against the Wild.

The Flames have lost their last two home games and are 11-8-1 as the host this season.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has won its last two games on the heels of a three-game slide and is 6-3-0 so far in January.

The Wild have outscored the opposition by a combined 8-1 margin over their last two games. Minnesota notched a 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Sunday and the Wild defeated the Oilers, 4-1, in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Matt Cullen and Brent Burns scored 1:46 apart early in the first period to set the tone as the Wild rolled past the Oilers at Rexall Place.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Andrew Brunette both tallied in the third period for Minnesota. Eric Nystrom collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 31 saves.

"It really wasn't our best game, but at least we got the two points," said Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak. "That's the most important thing, but we know that we must play better if we're going to stay competitive."

Khudobin has started the last three games in net for the Wild and has yielded a total of four goals in those tilts. However, Niklas Backstrom is expected to get the start over the youngster tonight. Backstrom has served as the backup in the last two games, but hasn't played since injuring his left hip on Dec. 31.

With Backstrom expected to be back in action tonight and fellow goaltender Jose Theodore nearing a return from a hip injury of his own, Khudobin will likely be sent down to the AHL when Minnesota gets its top-two netminders back.

The Wild kicked off a four-game road trip on Tuesday and Todd Richards' club is 12-7-3 as the guest this season.

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Khudobin Brilliant Again As Wild Defeat Oilers, 4-1

(Sports Network) - Matt Cullen and Brent Burns scored 1:46 apart early in the first period to set the tone as the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1, at Rexall Place.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Andrew Brunette both tallied in the third period for Minnesota, which has won six of its last nine games. Eric Nystrom collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 31 saves.

"It really wasn't our best game, but at least we got the two points," said Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak. "That's the most important thing, but we know that we must play better if we're going to stay competitive."

Nikolai Khabibulin gave up four goals on 26 shots for the Oilers, who returned home after a 1-4-0 road trip.

"It's a frustrating loss at home," said Edmonton forward Taylor Hall. "This is a place that we want to make teams scared to come into. With the exception of the first few minutes, we played a pretty good game. They put us on their heels at a time when we should be doing that to them."

Cullen backhanded a rebound past Khabibulin 1:39 into the contest, and Burns fired a wrister from the point that sailed through traffic.

Bouchard lit the lamp at 10:04 of the third period. Two minutes later, Brunette connected on a power play to make it 4-0.

Magnus Paajarvi spoiled Khudobin's bid for a second consecutive shutout with 3:46 left in regulation.

Game Notes

Edmonton forward Ales Hemsky left the game with a concussion...Minnesota has won all three meetings with Edmonton this season.

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