The San Jose Sharks blanked the Minnesota Wild, 3-0, on Tuesday night. The team was booed off the ice, only to find out 10 minutes later that the Nashville Predators had eliminated the Colorado Avalanche from the playoffs.
“I’m kind of disappointed everyone is saying we’re backing into the playoffs,” interim head coach John Torchetti told the Pioneer Press. “How do you back into the playoffs going (15-10-1, their record since Torchetti took over). You don’t do that. The guys have done a great job. I’m proud of them.”
“We’re in the playoffs,” echoed Mikko Koivu. “You earn every single point and every single team that’s in the playoffs (does), and we’re there, so we can talk about it like we won six in a row. That’s probably what brought us there. Why don’t we talk about that?”
The Wild are currently on a four-game losing streak, but had a season-high six-game winning streak immediately before that. During the winning streak, they scored first in all six games; during the losing streak, they allowed the first goal in all four games.
Minnesota got off to a slow start against San Jose. Logan Couture scored 4 minutes and 43 seconds into the game, and the Wild had a stretch of 16 minutes in the first period where it had one even-strength shot, two power plays without a shot and took a penalty that led to one of Patrick Marleau’s two goals.
“We put ourselves in a 2-0 hole,” Zach Parise told the Star Tribune. “The effort has got to be there from the start of the game, and it wasn’t. Once again we’re chasing the game. … We’ve got a lot of work that we need to do. There’s just some areas of our play that aren’t good. That’s inexcusable in Game 81.”
The players said they hope to wipe the slate clean now that they’re in the playoffs, loosen up, and prepare for one of three teams that could earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference: the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars or St. Louis Blues.
“It’s nice to get that over with,” goalie Devan Dubnyk told the Star Tribune. “It doesn’t make you feel any better right now, but it’s been talked about for the last week. It’s nice to get it out of the way and we can shift our focus. I don’t know if that was affecting what we were doing, but it doesn’t have to anymore.”[Star Tribune, Pioneer Press]