Sharks end epic road trip in Minnesota

The San Jose Sharks will try to close what has been a rough road trip on a positive note, as they visit the Minnesota Wild for this evening's battle at Xcel Energy Center.

San Jose has compiled a 2-5-1 record so far on a nine-game swing, dropping the Sharks to 14-12-5 as the guest this season. The poor road trip has cost San Jose its spot atop the Pacific Division, as Phoenix has moved two points in front of the Sharks for first place. San Jose has also dropped to seventh in the Western Conference standings and is three points ahead of a trio of teams tied for the eighth seed.

The Sharks suffered their most lopsided loss of the trek yesterday in Nashville, as the Predators used two goals from Shea Weber to notch an easy 6-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena.

Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau each post a goal and an assist for the Sharks.

"We have to break these bad habits we've picked up," said Pavelski. "Losing six of seven at this time of the season is not acceptable."

Antti Niemi started in net but was pulled in the first as he gave up three goals on seven shots. Thomas Greiss finished the game between the pipes and stopped 11-of-13 shots. Niemi has been pulled in two of his last three starts.

After today's tilt in St. Paul, San Jose will return to northern California for a four-game homestand, which is set to begin Tuesday against Philadelphia.

The Wild will also try to get back in the win column today after having a two- game win streak halted with Friday's setback in Dallas. Minnesota hasn't won three in a row since a seven-game win streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 10. The Wild are just 7-18-6 since the last victory of that season-high winning stretch.

Minnesota dropped a 4-1 decision to the Stars on Friday, as Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves for the hosts and Tom Wandell scored twice in the victory.

"Our execution was really bad tonight," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. "Everything just seemed to be a broken play."

Devin Setoguchi netted the lone goal for the Wild, who are five points out of a playoff spot in the West.

Niklas Backstrom started the game in net for Minnesota, but was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Matt Hackett entered in relief and stopped all 10 shots he faced. Hackett has been filling in for injured backup Josh Harding, who is questionable for today's test with a lower-body injury.

Wild captain Mikko Koivu is also questionable after sitting out the last four games with an undisclosed injury.

Minnesota is 14-10-4 as the host this year and is beginning a brief two-game homestand today.

The Wild have taken two of three from San Jose this season and have four wins in the last seven encounters between the clubs. Minnesota has also claimed victory in its last three home tilts versus the Sharks.