Sharks' big line hopes to keep roll going vs. Wild
SHARKS (5-3-1) at WILD (4-4-2)
VERSUS (HD), TSN2 (HD)
Season series --
This is the first of four games between the teams this season. The Sharks won the all four meetings last season, with forward Patrick Marleau
leading the way with 4 goals and 7 points.
Big story --
In the two games since Sharks coach Todd McLellan reunited center Joe Thornton
with linemates Dany Heatley
and Marleau, the threesome has combined for 20 points. The Sharks have won four of their last five games in convincing fashion, scoring 20 goals while allowing just 11. San Jose is 10th in the Western Conference with 11 points.
In a 5-2 victory against Anaheim on Saturday, Heatley scored twice, Marleau once and Thornton had assists on the first three San Jose goals to equal a record set in 1992 by Kelly Kisio for chipping in on the scoring of eight straight goals spanning two games. Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki
made 22 saves as the club earned its fourth win in five games. The Marleau-Thornton-Heatley line accrued seven points in the game after compiling 13 in a 5-2 triumph against New Jersey three days earlier.
"Don't get used to it, though," Thornton said of his line's success. "We're not going to score five goals every night. I think we were still shaking off the rust from earlier in the season."
After defeating last season's Presidents' Trophy winners, the Washington Capitals, 2-1, last Thursday behind Niklas Backstrom's 22 saves, the Wild dropped a 3-1 decision to the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Minnesota had pulled to within one goal, 2-1, on Marek Zidlicky's goal 14:06 into the third but couldn't notch the equalizer against Chicago's Marty Turco (25 saves).
Who's hot --
Minnesota center Mikko Koivu had an assist in Saturday's loss, giving him at least a point in six consecutive games (1 goal, 5 assists). He's tallied a point in nine of the Wild's 10 games this season and had 3 goals, 11 points and plus-5 rating in the first month of the season. … Heatley has 4 goals and 9 points in his last four games.
Injury report --
The Sharks are without defenseman Derek Joslin
(surgically repaired thumb). … Minnesota is without forwards Antti Miettinen (concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (post-concussion syndrome). Left wing Guillaume Latendresse (groin) is day-to-day.
Stat pack --
Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck, who has led the league in hits the last two seasons, is third one month into the 2010-11 season with 43 body checks.
Puck drop --
"When we came back from Europe, we really didn't have any rhythm in our game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Now we're starting to find that, even in practice. They've settled in a little more. Routine is important for us and we're starting to see the benefits of that."