Wild

4/7 PREGAME: Minnesota Wild vs. San Jose Sharks

The Minnesota Wild finish up the regular season in San Jose on Saturday night. Though the Wild are set for a first-round playoff series against Winnipeg, they’ve lost their past two games and are 2-2-3 in their past seven games.

Finishing off game 82 on a winning note would be a good feeling for the local squad.

While the Wild (44-26-11) don’t have anything to play for in the standings, one more point would get them a 100-point season for the second year in a row.

The Sharks (45-26-10), who do have something to play for, just ended a four-game losing streak with a win over Colorado on Thursday. The game against the Wild means something for the Sharks, a team that could finish second in the Pacific Division or claim a wild-card spot. They enter the day one point ahead of Anaheim and two points ahead of Los Angeles, the top wild-card team.

The Wild are 2-0-0 against the Sharks this season, with a pair of overtime victories at home and on the road. Team points leader Eric Staal has three goals and an assist against the Sharks this season. Jason Zucker has three assists. The Wild are 11-6-2 in their past 19 contests against the Sharks, which includes a five-game winning streak. The Wild are also 3-2-1 in their past six games in San Jose.

With a goal last game, Staal brings his season total to 41 goals, one away from tying Marian Gaborik’s franchise record of 42 (done in 2007-08) in a single season.

Former Wild defenseman Brent Burns shares a points lead (65 points) with Joe Pavelski on the Sharks. Burns leads the team with 54 assists. Wild backup goaltender Alex Stalock was a San Jose fourth-round draft pick in 2005. Justin Braun (White Bear Lake) and Paul Martin (Elk River) are both Minnesota natives.

The Wild’s defensive core has a franchise-record 195 points, good enough for third in the NHL. The Sharks, thanks in large part to Burns, are in second place in this category with 196 points. Matt Dumba, with 14 goals this season, has 15 points in 18 games since March 1. He’s also the third Wild defenseman in team history to have a 30-assist season. Dumba has two goals over the past two games, plus an assist.

Newly signed Wild defenseman Louie Belpedio, 21, could make his NHL debut Saturday night. He would be the 82nd player to do so in a Wild uniform and sixth player this season.

The entire hockey community was hit hard with the news Friday night of a fatal crash involving a semi and team bus with the junior hockey team the Humboldt Broncos on board. At least 15 were killed and many more were injured in the crash in Saskatchewan.

Wild assistant coach Bob Woods was born just outside of Humboldt and his youngest son was a member of the Broncos a couple years back and played with some of the players in the crash.

Injury list:

  • Luke Kunin (ACL tear in left knee), out for season, 15 games
  • Jared Spurgeon (right hamstring tear), 11 games
  • Gustav Olofsson (upper body), 4 games
  • Ryan Suter (right ankle fracture), out for season, 3 games

Total man games lost: 147 games


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