Sharks try to push win streak to 6 in clash with Wild

The San Jose Sharks take aim at a sixth straight victory on Wednesday night when they play host to the last team that beat them, the Minnesota Wild.

The Sharks were shut out 2-0 in Minnesota on March 23, but have since outscored their opponents by a 17-7 margin over their longest winning streak since they set a franchise record by winning their first seven games of the season from Jan. 20-31.

San Jose has won the first four of a seven-game homestand and is an excellent 12-1-4 as the host this season. The club stayed hot on Monday by holding off the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.

Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture all scored in a 2:13 span during the second period to put the Sharks up 3-0 and Antti Niemi made it hold up by stopping 23 shots.

"When it gets 3-0, everyone gets kind of comfortable," Thornton said. "We know how quickly it can vanish, but it was nice we held on for the two points."

The two points have the Sharks sixth overall in the Western Conference, but just one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for fifth place.

With Wednesday's trade deadline approaching, the Sharks made forward Ryane Clowe a healthy scratch as his name continued to appear in trade rumors and he was finally dealt on Tuesday to the New York Rangers.

In return, San Jose picked up second- and third-round picks in 2013 and a conditional choice in 2014. It will be a second-round selection if the Rangers win two playoff series or re-sign Clowe, otherwise it is a fifth-rounder.

The 30-year-old has scored 101 goals with 271 points in 423 career games with the Sharks, but has no goals and 11 helpers in 28 games this season.

"Ryane is a tremendously respected player and teammate, and an individual of outstanding character," said San Jose general manager Doug Wilson. "These deals involving players who have spent a substantial amount of time in and contributed much to San Jose are difficult but it's also important for us to get value for a player who is set to be an unrestricted free agent."

The Wild are also an excellent home team, but they'll try to move above .500 on the road (8-8-1) Wednesday night after suffering a 4-1 defeat to the visiting St. Louis Blues on Monday.

Dany Heatley scored the lone goal for the Wild, who were outshot 12-5 in the first period and remained tied with the Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division with 44 points. Minnesota does have a game in hand.

"I think this game gives us a reminder of what we need to do to be successful," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "That's basically it in a nutshell. Unfortunately we couldn't buy a goal there when we made a push late in the game, but we didn't come out good and that's what happens."

Niklas Backstrom turned aside 20-of-24 shots and had a personal eight-decision win streak snapped for Minnesota, which lost for only the second time in its last 10 games.

Not only did the Wild lose the game, but center Matt Cullen suffered a lower body injury on Monday that will sideline him for at least the next two games.

Backstrom made 33 saves in the shutout win over the Sharks on March 23, while Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored once each. It was Minnesota's fourth straight win over San Jose.

Antti Niemi allowed both goals on 24 shots for the Sharks, who have won five of six and nine of their past 11 at home against the Wild.