The Minnesota Wild center Nico Sturm gets the wrap around the goal post to score a second period goal against the San Jose Sharks on Sat Apr 17, 2021 at the Target Center in St Paul (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
Patrick Marleau tied Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 NHL Games Played record in St. Paul on Saturday. The Minnesota Wild made a special announcement for the occasion and, on the ice, the Minnesota players congratulated Marleau. It was a tremendous accomplishment, well-worth celebrating, but somewhat at odds with the loss Marleau’s team suffered the same night.
The 5-2 loss to the Wild was the Sharks’ fifth loss in a row. The Wild got goals from Mats Zuccarello, Joel Ericksson Ek, Zach Parise, Kirill Kaprizov and Nico Sturm. Three of those goals were scored in 72 seconds. Kaapo Kahkonen made 26 saves for the win. Brent Burns and Joel Kellman scored for the Sharks. In the Sharks net, Martin Jones made 19 saves before being replaced by Josef Korenar, who made 4 saves in the third period.
After the game, Marleau talked about reaching this milestone in the midst of a losing streak: “Obviously you want things to be going well, you want your team to be winning, all the time, regardless of milestones or not. Be nice to get back on track, get in the winning books, and feeling good about ourselves as a club.”
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns talked about Marleau’s accomplishment:
“I think at this point to play a game like that any night, obviously what he’s doing is special and, you know, it’s beyond one game. So tonight’s obviously big for him, it’s big for all of us to be a part of something like that. It’s incredible, it’s bigger than one game.”
Brent Burns started the scoring with a blast from the point that beat Kahkonen glove side at 12:02. Assists went to Rudolfs Balcers and Tomas Hertl.
A little over two minutes later, Zuccarello scored a power play goal. Marcus Johansson made a back-hand pass form below the goal line for Zuccarello to tap in. Assists went to Johansson and Ryan Hartman.
36 seconds later, Martin Jones knocked Jordan Greenway’s shot away but it went off of Joel Ericksson Ek’s chest and into the net. Assists went to Greenway and Marcus Foligno.
36 seconds after that, Zach Parise made it 3-1 with a shot off the rush that beat Jones on the blocker side. Assists went to Jonas Brodin and Nick Bonino.
Minnesota out-shot the Sharks 17-9 in the first period. The Wild had 7 shots on 3 power plays, including some five-on-three time at the end of the period. The Sharks had no power play time in the first.
Kirill Kaprizov made it 4-1 1:14 into the second period with a goal in the final second of a power play. Mats Zuccarello made a pass from the boards to the slot. The pass went through Kevin Fiala who took a swing at it and missed. That gave Jones and the defense pause, before the puck landed on Kaprizov’s stick for the real shot.
Nico Sturm made it 5-1 at 19:11 of the second. Jones was down on the side of the net when Sturm went for the wrap-around on the other side. Carson Soucy got the assist.
It looked as if Sturm and Jones locked skates for a moment before the goal, but the challenge was unsuccessful.
San Jose out-shot Minnesota 8-7 in the second. The Sharks took one penalty in the second period, the unsuccessful challenge of the Sturm goal. The Wild had one shot on that power play.
Joel Kellman scored for San Jose at 17:45 of the third. Labanc made a tidy pass from below the goal line, jus as Kellman arrived in the slot. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Ryan Donato. It was Kellman’s first of the season, in his fifth NHL game of the season.
Minnesota took two penalties in the third period, giving the Sharks power play one shot on goal. The Sharks out-shot the Wild 11-4 in the final period.
The Sharks next play on Monday against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas at 7:00 PM PT.