Jed Ortmeyer scores his first of the season as Wild rally, beat Sharks
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - If this is the last we see of a Minnesota Wild team that looks like this, at least they left fans with a good final memory.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday afternoon, and the Wild, still far from the playoff picture in the Western Conference, may well be sellers. But for one night anyway, they out-hustled a road-weary San Jose Sharks team, getting a pair of late goals to come from behind and win 4-3.
After former Wild defenseman Brent Burns scored on then power play to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead, the Wild got goals from Matt Cullen and Jed Ortmeyer - the first of the season for Ortmeyer - to complete the rally. They've now won three of their last four.
"We stunk in Dallas, but we've played three out of four now," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "The message before the game was 'Forget standings, forget wins and losses even. Let's get back to playing our game as far as trying to build ourselves into what we want to become.'"
Despite being in the last day of a road trip that has stretched on for more than two weeks, the Sharks looked to have some jump early, scoring on their first shot of the game and taking a two-goal lead by sending plenty of traffic to Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom's neighborhood.
But the Wild clawed their way back into the game, cutting the deficit in half before the first period was over, and thoroughly dominating the second period. They out-shot the Sharks by a 13-2 clip and knotted the score early in the second when defenseman Nick Schultz saw his shot from the blue line hit Sharks center Patrick Marleau and sail into the back of the net.
"They got a couple early goals, but I think for the most part we hung with it and knew if we got to our game we could have success," said Schultz. "I think we started doing that in the second period and kind of took over the game so it was a big win for us and hopefully momentum for us moving forward."
This was already a new-look Wild team as the three players acquired from New Jersey in the weekend trade of Marek Zidlicky - Kurtis Foster, Stephane Veilleux and Nick Palmieri - all saw significant time on the ice. Palmieri started, and just missed his first goal as a member of the team when he failed on a bid for a wraparound in the second period.
"We saw a winners' attitude on the bench," Yeo said, sounding optimistic that it might not be too late to make a run at the postseason.
Trailing 2-0 early, the Wild needed some kind of spark, and got one when Cal Clutterbuck made a rare end-to-end rush, snapping a wide-angle shot that got past Greiss and gave the Wild some life midway through an opening period that had been a mess to that point. Clutterbuck joked that it was significantly warmer outside the last time he made a coast-to-coast rush and scored.
"Summer hockey, last summer. St. Louis Park," he said when asked for the time and place.
• 4: Wins by the Wild this season when allowing three or more goals. They are 4-22-6 in those games.
• 35: The Wild's power play percentage (7-for-20) in their last eight home games.
• 101: Games since a shot by Schultz last crossed the goal line. His last goal was scored on Jan. 2, 2011, versus the Coyotes.
• 16: Consecutive days spent on the road by the Sharks. Sunday's contest was the final one of an eight-game road trip for San Jose.
"Clutter saved my life right after that. They shoot a puck out and Clutter reached out and grabbed it. He'll get some more power play time. - Yeo, recalling an errant puck that would have hit him on the bench if not for quick work by Clutterbuck.
Still no Mikko Koivu in the Wild lineup. The team captain missed his fifth consecutive game with a still undisclosed injury.
For San Jose, the most significant injury came in the second period. Sharks coach Todd McClellan was inadvertently hit in the head with a stick when Marco Scandella collided with San Jose's Jamie McGinn in front of the Sharks bench. The coach was helped to the training room after the game had been stopped and a stretcher had been brought to the bench. McClellan did not return, nor did he speak to the media afterward, but watched the rest of the game from the visiting coach's office, and did return to California with the team.
"I saw the player come into the boards and I saw our guys kind of push him out and then I looked at Todd was then trying to compose himself and stay upright and you could tell he was in some discomfort," said Sharks assistant coach Matt Shaw. "I just kind of grabbed him. I didn't see, obviously, it was a stick, I didn't see the stick come over and make contact but that's obviously what happened."
Sharks - Tommy Wingels 3 (McGinn, Marleau), 1:22
Sharks - Joe Thornton 14 (Mitchell, Burns), 3:21
Wild - Cal Clutterbuck 14 (unassisted), 9:13
Wild - Nick Schultz 1 (Brodziak), 1:43, PPG
Shots: Wild 7-13-6-26; Sharks 12-2-14-28. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (25-28); Sharks, Thomas Greiss (22-26). Power plays: Wild 1-for-3, Sharks 1-4.
This "visitors in town from the West Coast" thing went so well for the Wild, they'll try it again on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Kings, who just acquired Jeff Carter in a much-hyped trade, will come to St. Paul for the first of two visits this season.