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Sharks host showdown against Wild

A potential first-round playoff matchup is scheduled for Thursday evening in San Jose, as the Sharks welcome the Minnesota Wild for a Western Conference showdown at HP Pavilion.

With 53 points, the Sharks are tied with Los Angeles for the fourth seed in the West and Minnesota is just two points behind in sixth place. The Kings also are in action on Thursday, as they are set to host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Both the Wild and Sharks will be after their third consecutive wins on Thursday and Minnesota will also be trying to complete a perfect three-game road trip.

The Wild had lost three straight and six of seven before opening this swing with Monday's 4-3 victory at Calgary. Minnesota then followed that win with a 5-3 decision in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Kyle Brodziak scored twice and Niklas Backstrom needed to make just 16 saves to lead the Wild in Tuesday's triumph at Rexall Place. Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund also scored for the Wild against the Oilers.

"Our guys played a great game," Backstrom said.

The consecutive away wins improved the Wild's road record this season to 11-10-1. Minnesota has lost 10 of its past 12 games in San Jose.

Minnesota is one point ahead of St. Louis in the West standings and four points behind Vancouver for first place in the Northwest Division. The Blues are hosting Phoenix on Tuesday, while Vancouver will play in Dallas.

The Sharks, who are 10-2-1 over their last 13 games, are coming off consecutive wins against Phoenix and Los Angeles. The most recent victory was Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Kings.

Raffi Torres potted the only goal of the shootout to lift the Sharks past the Kings. After the first four shooters came up empty, Torres skated in and slipped a backhander through the five-hole of Jonathan Quick to put the Sharks in front.

"I've got to start shooting more, I still have a lot more I can bring to the table," said Torres. "Once I get my confidence, once I get a few goals, I can get them in bunches."

Brent Burns registered a goal and an assist, while TJ Galiardi netted the other regulation goal for the Sharks. San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 41 shots through regulation and overtime before turning away all three shooters in the shootout.

Tuesday's test was the first of four straight on home ice for the Sharks, who have a superb 15-1-5 record as the host this season.

The Wild and Sharks have split a pair of meetings this season, with each club winning on home ice. San Jose has won four of the last five meetings in this series, but the teams have split the last eight encounters.