This evening's tilt marks the second encounter between the Sharks and Wild after the teams pulled off a pair of high-profile trades over the summer. San Jose recorded a 3-1 home win over the Wild when the clubs met Nov. 10 in northern California.
The first move came during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on June 24, when the Wild shipped defenseman Brent Burns to the Sharks for forward Devin Setoguchi, center prospect Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick in the draft. The two franchises then hooked up again a little over a week later, with the Wild swapping forward Martin Havlat for the Sharks' Dany Heatley.
The trades have so far seemed to benefit the Wild more, as Minnesota is leading the NHL with 37 points after failing to make the postseason in each of the previous three seasons.
Heatley is second on Minnesota with 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) this year and Setoguchi has eight goals and 13 points. Havlat has one goal and 10 assists for the Sharks, while Burns has four goals and four assists.
San Jose's win over the Wild last month marked the third straight win in the series for the Sharks, who have also taken eight of 10 from Minnesota. The Wild have also lost five in a row and nine of 10 in Silicon Valley.
Of the players involved in this summer's trades between the clubs, Burns was the only one with a point in the November meeting, as he recorded an assist.
The Wild notched their fourth straight win Sunday in Anaheim and can match their longest winning streak of the year tonight. Minnesota also had five-game winning stretches from Oct. 29-Nov. 8 and from Nov. 13-23.
Nick Johnson scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to lift the Wild to a 5-3 win over the Ducks. Johnson enters tonight on a five-game point streak and has two goals and three assists during the run.
Anaheim's Cam Fowler tied the game with a slap shot midway through the final period, but Johnson's tip-in with 5:31 remaining gave the Wild a 4-3 lead. Cal Clutterbuck added an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
"We have a group of guys that are not going to quit," said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo. "I thought our focus and execution were there."
Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom was unable to suit up in Sunday's game and Matt Hackett served as the backup to Harding. Backstrom is questionable for tonight with a strained groin and Harding is expected to get the start.
The Sharks have lost three of their last four games since a four-game winning streak and were dealt a 5-3 loss by the visiting Panthers on Saturday. Tomas Fleischmann had a goal and two assists to lead the Panthers.
Logan Couture had a pair of goals for the Sharks, giving him 10 markers on the season and three in the last two games.
"It's disappointing that we couldn't show up tonight for this game," said Couture.
The Wild are 7-3-2 on the road this year and San Jose is 7-5-1 as the home team. Minnesota is playing the second test of a five-game swing, while the Sharks are 1-1-0 on a four-game homestand that is set to end Thursday against Dallas.