The Minnesota Wild continue a season in transition while trying to remain in the race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference when the host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday evening at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild have lost eight of their last ten including a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday while playing the last four games without center Mikko Koivu, sidelined with an undisclosed injury. To add to the issues facing the Wild of late, veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky was traded to New Jersey for a few players including Nick Palmeri and draft picks.
Against the Stars, starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom was pulled in favor of Matt Hackett after giving up his third goal in the second period. Backstrom should be rested and motivated to defend the net against the Sharks on Sunday.
Despite the distractions, Minnesota remains just five points out of the eighth spot in the West that would put them in the playoffs. San Jose currently sits in the seventh spot in the West but arrive in Minnesota struggling, as well.
The Sharks have lost five of their last six games including a 6-2 loss to Nashville on Saturday night. In the last meeting between the two teams, Matt Cullen had a pair of goals including on in a shootout as the Wild won 5-4.