During the third period Sunday night, a referee skated over to Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and pointed to the Jumbotron at Xcel Energy Center. "Is the shot clock right?" he asked. Suter looked up dumbfounded. The Sharks were outshooting the Wild at a 3-to-1 clip and yet the Wild were leading 2-0 at that point. "I was shocked," Suter said. "When you're in the heat of the moment, you don't really notice that." The Wild allowed the most shots they have at home (38) all season. They managed their lowest shot total of the season (13). They went a stretch of more than 20 minutes with just one shot on goal spanning the late second period through most of the third. And yet the Wild pulled out a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in a game where most leading statistics would indicate a loss. Josh Harding, with 37 saves, was excellent again in goal, an opportunistic offense scored twice in a five-minute span and the defense played well, forcing the Sharks to take low-percentage shots. "I feel like we got a lot of good practice in our defensive zone tonight," coach Mike Yeo joked. "We have to execute better, but there's a lot of parts that were good, too." Those positives started with the penalty kill and the way the Wild played in front of Harding, despite allowing so many shots. They blocked 18 shots and, against one of the league's best offenses, held the Sharks without a goal until 1 minute, 49 seconds remained. The Sharks scored with an empty net late, but managed few Grade-A chances otherwise, peppering Harding with quantity but not much quality. "You can kind of take it as a positive," Harding said. "You get a feel for the puck when you know it's going to be coming from everywhere. I'd rather have those games sometimes than the 10-shot game with them spread out. Whenever you can keep a team like that at bay, you're going to be happy." The Wild have placed an emphasis on clearing loose rebounds and preventing opponents from getting in front of the net.
Wild need just 13 shots, and Josh Harding, to beat Sharks
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Dec 9