The Minnesota Wild will try to bounce back on short rest when they host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night in St. Paul.
Minnesota (46-21-7, 99 points) is coming off a 6-5 loss in overtime against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. The Wild won their previous three games in a row and could be destined for a first-round playoff matchup against St. Louis, which has had the upper hand in recent meetings.
“We know there’s a good chance of playing these guys first round, and we believe we can win,” Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. “That’s just the mentality of this year. It’s always been like that. I just think when we don’t show lackadaisical spurts, we’re the better team.
“It’s just something we need to clean up obviously going into the playoffs.”
First comes a matchup against San Jose (29-34-11, 69 points), which also will play on short rest after a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Timo Meier scored the lone goal for the Sharks, with assists coming from Ryan Merkley and Mario Ferraro.
Former Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 24 of 26 shots for San Jose, but it was not enough as the Sharks’ winless streak extended to nine games.
San Jose’s last victory came March 26 against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks look forward to the expected debut of forward Thomas Bordeleau, who signed a three-year contract last week. The 20-year-old Bordeleau recorded 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 37 games with the Michigan Wolverines this season.
Michigan reached the Frozen Four thanks in part to Bordeleau’s leadership this season. He finished his collegiate career with 67 points (20 goals, 47 assists) in 61 games.
“Thomas is a skilled playmaker with a high hockey IQ at both ends of the ice,” Sharks interim general manager Joe Will said. “He consistently shows up in high-level competition and has a history of playing his best in crucial moments.”
Kirill Kaprizov leads Minnesota with 93 points (43 goals, 50 assists) in 73 games this season. Mats Zuccarello is second on the team with 74 points (22 goals, 52 assists) in 66 games, and Kevin Fiala ranks third with 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists) in 74 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his seventh start in net since joining the Wild. The three-time Stanley Cup champion is 5-1-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage since joining the team from the Chicago Blackhawks before the trade deadline.
For San Jose, Meier is the top scorer with 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) in 69 games. Tomas Hertl is next with 61 points (28 goals, 33 assists) in 74 games, and Logan Couture has 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 69 games.
If Kahkonen does not play two nights in a row, the Sharks could turn to goaltender James Reimer, who is 18-16-8 with a 2.79 GAA and .914 save percentage on the season.
The Wild are determined to end the weekend on a winning note.
“It’s a good lesson for us to learn, having this loss, and it’s something we can work on,” Kaprizov said after the setback against St. Louis. “But come playoffs, we’ll be ready.”
–Field Level Media