(SportsNetwork.com) - Armed with the knowledge that veterans Joe Thornton and
Patrick Marleau will remain in the mix for the foreseeable future, the San
Jose Sharks aim to match their longest win streak of the season on Saturday as
they host the Minnesota Wild.
The Sharks will try to record a sixth straight victory one day after signing
Thornton and Marleau, both 34, to separate three-year extensions through the
Both were set to become free agents in July, but Thornton inked a deal worth a
reported $6.75 million per year while Marleau is set to be paid $6.66 million
"Patrick and Joe continue to perform at an elite level in the National Hockey
League and, most importantly, they make the other players around them better,"
said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson in a statement Friday. "They both made
it very clear that they wanted to stay in San Jose and we were able to agree
on contracts that fit with our team building philosophy."
The Sharks have been contenders ever since they acquired Thornton from the
Boston Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005. The captain leads the NHL this season with 47
assists and is tied for sixth with 53 points in 51 games, and has totaled 549
assists and 717 points with San Jose.
Marleau, taken second overall in the 1997 draft after Boston nabbed Thornton
with the top pick, has 21 goals and 26 points in 51 games this season and is
the Sharks' all-time leader with 425 goals and 908 points.
Neither player was able to find the scoresheet in Thursday's meeting with the
Winnipeg Jets, but Joe Pavelski's third-period goal was enough in a 1-0 win
thanks to a 20-save shutout by backup goaltender Alex Stalock.
Stalock was making his first start since Jan. 16, when he notched the first
shutout of his career with 24 saves in a 3-0 road win over Florida.
"I'm going in to do my job and give the team a chance to win and we wound up
getting two points," Stalock said of posting his second straight whitewash.
San Jose has won two straight at home to begin a four-game residency.
Pavelski, meanwhile, remained red hot with his seventh goal in four games and
19th in his last 21 games. He now ranks second in the NHL with 28 goals on the
Antti Niemi, among the league leaders with 43 starts on the season, is likely
to start tonight and is 7-3-1 in his career versus the Wild with a 1.82 goals
The Sharks are one win shy of matching their longest win streak of the
campaign, first done with a 6-0 start to the season from Oct. 3-15 and matched
from Nov. 21-Dec. 3.
San Jose dropped a 3-1 decision in Minnesota back on Dec. 8 in the first of
three meetings this season, but countered with a 3-1 home victory on Dec. 12.
That gave the Sharks a win in three straight and 12 of their last 14 at home
versus the Wild.
Minnesota, which begins a four-game road trip, has won eight of its last 11
games and is tied with Vancouver for the final two playoff spots in the
Western Conference with 61 points.
The Wild were blanked 4-0 in Dallas on Tuesday, but bounced back with a 2-1
victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Jason Pominville and
Matt Cooke had first-period goals, while Darcy Kuemper did his part with 33
"That was definitely the response we were looking for, especially our start,"
Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said of his team. "We were on our toes, we
The 23-year-old Kuemper, making his sixth start in a row, appeared in line for
his second career shutout, but Patrick Kane spoiled the whitewash with his
24th goal of the season with 31.2 seconds left in the game.
However, Kuemper came up with a clutch stop on the doorstep with under 10
seconds left and Zach Parise, who returned from a 14-game absence, was able to
clear the puck out to secure the Wild's third win in four games.
Kuemper may have earned another start tonight and it would be his first
against the Sharks. He has faced them once before in relief, facing only two
shots in 16 minutes and giving up a goal.
The Sports Network