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Wild Try to Take Bite Out of the Sharks

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(Sports Network) - Niklas Backstrom stopped all 36 shots he faced and earned his 20th career shutout to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Andrew Brunette's power-play goal in the second period provided the only offense needed for the Wild, who have won two of their last three games and will conclude their current five-game homestand on Friday against Calgary.

"This was a really good win for us," said Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck. "To play the way we did was great for our confidence."

Antero Niittymaki finished with 15 saves for San Jose, which entered this contest as winners in four of its last five overall.

The only goal of the contest was scored during a 5-on-3 advantage in the middle stanza.

John McCarthy was whistled for a high-sticking double minor at the 11:27 mark and Torrey Mitchell joined him in the box for hooking 71 seconds later. The Wild easily worked the puck around the perimeter and faked several shots before Martin Havlat held control at the bottom of the right circle.

Havlat then passed the disc across the goal mouth directly onto the stick of Brunette, who gathered near the left post and easily deposited the puck into the net with 6:41 to play before the second intermission.

"(Playing against a 5-on-3) is not an ideal situation," said Niittymaki. "They got one goal. We need to take the positives out of this game and move on."

In the final period, the Sharks threw 16 shots at Backstrom, but failed to find an equalizer. Midway through the stanza, the visitors gained a power play, but it was short-lived because Dan Boyle was whistled for tripping during a Nick Schultz minor.

Niittymaki was pulled for the extra attacker in the waning moments, but Jason Demers' interference penalty with 46 seconds to play in regulation all but ended any hopes the Sharks had of tying the game.

Game Notes

This marked the first regulation loss by San Jose versus Minnesota since October 21, 2006...The Wild halted a five-game skid against the Sharks...Backstrom earned his first career win against San Jose in five starts...Minnesota improved to 4-3-1 at home this season...The Wild were 1- for-8 on the power play...The Sharks had five power-play chances.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.