Even thinner on 'D': Wild loses Schultz, loses to Sharks
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With Marco Scandella and Marek Zidlicky stuck back in Minnesota, still working to recover from injuries, the Minnesota Wild were already a bit thin on defense, in the midst of a four-game road trip.
Then, things got even thinner.
While giving up a whopping 25 shots in the second period of Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Wild defenseman Nick Schultz was lost to an unspecified head injury and did not return.
The good news, on the defensive side, was another big night by All-Star Brent Burns, who scored the Wild's third goal, and assisted on the first two, both of which were scored by Mikko Koivu. It was a rare loss for the Wild when scoring three or more goals, but the 42 shots the Wild allowed made an obvious difference. Burns, Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck - who took a nasty-looking stick to the face at one point - are now all tied for the team lead in goals with 14 each.
"We did a lot of good things, but obviously not enough to win," Burns told Kevin Gorg of FSN after the game. Burns looked completely gassed, reflective of the extra minutes he's logged with Schultz. "It's tough to lose a guy like Schultzie. He logs a lot of good minutes and is obviously a great defensive defenseman."
Devin Setoguci scored half of the Sharks goals, as the Wild's three-game winning streak came to an end in Silicon Valley. His second goal produced a stream of protest from Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, and a review from the officials, after it appeared Setoguchi might have deflected the puck with a high stick. A length video review was inconclusive, showing Setoguchi's stick was near, but not obviously above, the crossbar, and the goal was allowed to stand, giving the Sharks a 3-1 lead in the second period.
Backstrom, making his second consecutive start after returning from a hip injury that sidelined him for the first half of January, had 38 saves. But the biggest area of concern post-game was Schultz, who coach Todd Richards hinted has suffered a head injury and is unlikely for the next game, in Chicago on Tuesday.
"It's a huge blow to lose somebody like that," Richards said. "He's one of our best skaters on the back end. When you're playing a good skating team and you lose somebody like that, now you're down to five (defensemen)."
The visit to the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks is the Wild's last game before the All-Star break, which is looking more like an important time for rest and recovery, especially among the blue line corps.