ST. PAUL, Minn. (CBS / AP) — Matt Cullen scored in the third period and in the first round of the shootout to help the skidding Minnesota Wild recover from a late stumble to beat San Jose 5-4 on Tuesday night, stopping the Sharks’ four-game winning streak.
Mikko Koivu scored next for the Wild, and Josh Harding stopped shots by Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe to give the Wild just their second victory in their last 13 games. They’re 2-8-3 in that span.
Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored 22 seconds apart to tie the game with 2:44 remaining in regulation minutes after Cullen’s goal. Harding made 34 saves, and the Sharks outshot the Wild 18-8 in the third period.
Cal Clutterbuck had a goal and an assist, and Warren Peters and Nick Johnson also scored for the Wild.
Dan Boyle had a 5-on-3 goal, and Benn Ferriero scored for the Sharks.
This was the first game back in Minnesota for San Jose defenseman Brent Burns, who was drafted by the Wild in 2003 and made the All-Star team last season before being traded to the Sharks during the summer.
Clutterbuck put the Wild in front with one of his three shots on goal in the first period, snapping the puck over Niemi’s shoulder into the upper back corner of the net. Clutterbuck is tied for second on the Wild with 11 goals this season.
Niemi gave up the far side again in the third period when Johnson went there to give the Wild a 3-1 edge. Ferriero’s goal brought the Sharks back within one, but Cullen—playing in his 1,000th career NHL game—put the home team back in front by two with 6:20 left in the game.
That looked like all the Wild would need, but the defense softened. Harding, who hurt his neck and left the game against the Sharks in San Jose last month just 11 seconds in, made plenty of tough saves but found himself on the ice a lot and couldn’t hold on during the late barrage by the Sharks.
Couture hacked at a rebound long enough to slip it past Harding’s glove and off Justin Falk’s skate to make it 4-3. Then a classic Thornton-to-Marleau goal by the Sharks tied the game and stunned the crowd.
But Harding hung on during the overtime, whirling around to whisk away the puck rolling on the goal line with Marleau in position to poke it in. Then Marleau had a point-blank shot he stopped a few seconds later.
Harding found himself at a big disadvantage late in the first period when the Wild were called for penalties four seconds apart.
After Jared Spurgeon’s foul for closing his hand on the puck, Kyle Brodziak knocked Thornton to his knees with a two-handed slash to the ankle, giving the Sharks a two-man advantage of nearly two full minutes. They needed less than half of that to tie the game on Boyle’s slap shot with Michal Handzus screening.
The physical nature of the contest only increased as the night went on.
After Peters deflected in a shot by Falk to put the Wild up 2-1, they nearly had another goal right after that after Cullen’s backhander pinged off the post. The whistle blew before the puck slid over the line, but a scrum that developed in the scrap for the puck spilled into the net. Clutterbuck and Jamie McGinn tussled on the ice and had to be separated. They kept yapping at each other on the way to and in the penalty box.
Andrew Desjardins was called for boarding near the end of the middle frame after a vicious hit from behind Clayton Stoner that sent the defenseman head first into the corner. Stoner was all right, but the Wild were fired up.
Fired up is the way coach Mike Yeo was hoping and anticipating they would play.
With the Sharks in first place in the Pacific Division and a perennial power in the Western Conference coming off consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup semifinals, this was the optimal of opponent for the Wild to get their game going again—and rebuild some confidence.
They played without three of their top-six forwards. Devin Setoguchi was a surprise scratch, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard recently joined Guillaume Latendresse on the injured list with post-concussion symptoms. Johnson played on the first line with Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu.
NOTES: Brodziak went to the locker room for treatment in the second period after taking a stick to the face from Burns on a power play, but he returned a few minutes later. … Cullen, a native of Moorhead, Minn., who played at St. Cloud State, waved briefly when the achievement was announced during a break before returning to his game face and spitting off to the side. This was just his third goal in the last 24 games. … Burns got a cameo on the video screen, too, when the public address announcer acknowledged his presence. He didn’t wave, but he looked up at the board with a sly smile. … Wild F David McIntyre, recalled from the AHL when slumping D Marco Scandella was sent down, got his first career assist on the goal by Peters. … The other former Wild player traded to the Sharks last summer, Martin Havlat, missed his ninth straight game because of a lower-body injury.
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