Wild Hand Sharks 6-2 Loss to Open Long Homestand

Minnesota Wild left wing Jordan Greenway (18) puts the puck on net only to be blocked by the San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) during Mon Feb 22, 2021 NHL game at SAP Center in San Jose (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

The Minnesota Wild rode a three-goal second period to a 6-2 win over the Sharks at SAP Center Monday night. Marcus Foligno notched a Gordie Howe hattrick, Mats Zuccarello had three points in just his fourth game this season and the rookie Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves for the Minnesota (9-6-0) win.

Brent Burns scored (another) highlight reel goal against the team that drafted him and Logan Couture netted his team-leading tenth goal. The Sharks (7-8-2) scored first and early, but saw the lead evaporate after two Wild goals just 11 seconds apart.

Burns opened the scoring 45 seconds into play with nifty self-chip before a silky smooth finish on the backhand. Timo Meier and Ruldolfs Balcers each assisted on the goal.

Minnesota answered back when a Sharks rush up the ice was broken up at the Wild blue line. Calder Trophy favorite Kirill Kaprizov fed the puck to Victor Rask going the other way. Rask outwaited Mario Ferraro’s sliding block attempt to feed Zuccarello for the easy one-timer and a 1-1 tie 7:49 into the period.

Coach Dean Evason stuck with that line on the ensuing faceoff and they rewarded their coach’s faith 11 seconds later. Kaprizov, waiting on the back post, took the shot-pass from Zuccarello for the easy tic-tac-goal and a 2-1 lead.

“You never want to do that,” said Burns. “You want to keep up momentum. Those next couple shifts are big ones right after that goal. Any goal. You don’t want to give up one. You definitely don’t want to give up two.”

The flood gates opened in the second period for the Wild after Ian Cole, a mid-season trade acquisition, used a Nikolai Knyzhov slip screen on to beat Martin Jones for his first goal of the season 3:36 into the middle frame.

Foligno chased Jones on a shot that knuckled off Nicolas Meloche’s stick and fluttered into the net behind the frustrated Sharks netminder. Devan Dubnyk relieve Jones after allowing four goals on 20 shots.

The Sharks captain Logan Couture brought Team Teal within a pair of goals after some solid work by Evander Kane behind the Wild net. Kane dropped as pass to Couture, who pulled the puck from behind the Minnesota net to quickly put one past Kahkonen to make it 4-2 with 8:03 left in the period.

Jonas Brodin would score in the final five seconds of a Knyzhov double-minor for high sticking to give the Wild the three-goal lead with 2:45 left in the second period. Victor Rask added an empty netter in the third for the final margin of victory.

“They have some good depth,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “Their D are very active. Their guy in net played a good game tonight. I don’t think we were at our best but we definitely had spots in the first couple periods where I thought one bounce either way it could have been a different game.”

The Sharks continue their eight game homestand with a meeting with the Golden Knights Thursday evening. Vegas picked up a shutout over Anaheim Monday night courtesy of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Notes: Nikolai Knyzhov dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno in the end of the first period, the Sharks first fighting major this season…Rudolfs Balcers had four shots on goal in the game after having just four shots on goal in his six previous games of 2021….Logan Couture leads the Honda West Division in Goals with ten…

Foligno’s Gordie Howe hattrick was the first one in nearly eight years against the Sharks with the last player to do so being Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars…Brent Burns has four goals on the season, no other Sharks defenseman has a single goal….Sharks Coach Bob Boughner pulled Dubnyk with over five minutes left in regulation for the extra attacker.

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