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Wild Hope to Silence the Boos Against the Sharks

(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Wild have shut out an opponent just once this season and that club will be in town tonight when the San Jose Sharks visit the Xcel Energy Center.

Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has 20 shutouts in his career, but just one of those have come this season. That was a 36-save effort versus the visiting Sharks on Nov. 2 that helped Minnesota snap both a five-game overall and three-game home losing streak to San Jose.

Minnesota earned just its second victory in its last 10 home games versus San Jose.

Backstrom notched a career-high eight shutouts in 2008-09, but had just two a season ago. He is 3-7-2 with a 2.95 goals-against in his career versus the Sharks and had a personal three-game win streak end on Sunday in a loss to Detroit.

With the Wild in action again the following night, Jose Theodore got the call in an eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets. Theodore ended with 19 saves but failed to stop any of Columbus’ three shootout skaters.

Cal Clutterbuck scored the game-tying goal with 8:22 left in regulation and both Chuck Kobasew and Mikko Koivu added goals, but the Wild went 0-for-7 on the power play and dropped a second straight game.

“I don’t think we let up. It’s hockey. They’re allowed to score some goals too and I think we played a great 60-minute game and lost in a shootout,” said Koivu.

Minnesota begins a three-game homestand tonight and has lost four of its last five as the host.

The Sharks, meanwhile, start up a three-game swing tonight and are coming off their fifth shutout defeat of the season. They were blanked just twice last year en route to a 51-win, 113-point season.

Antti Niemi made 30 saves through the first two periods of Monday’s 4-0 loss to the Kings, but he made just three saves on seven shots in the third as San Jose saw its season-best four-game win streak end.

“I’m just embarrassed,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “It was a terrible effort. A lot of us took the night off and as important a game that is, it’s not right.”

San Jose has won four of its last six on the road.

Antero Niittymaki made 15 saves in the tough-luck loss to the Wild in November and is 3-1-0 with a 1.73 GAA versus them. Niemi has won his only other career start versus the Wild, posting a 21-save shutout while with Chicago on March 31 of last season.

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