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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 12th (All times Eastern)

Minnesota Wild (18-10-5) at San Jose Sharks (19-6-6), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The slumping San Jose Sharks will try to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season when they welcome the Minnesota Wild for Thursday's battle at SAP Center.

The Sharks are 0-3-1 during a four-game slide, which is one loss shy of the club's season-worst 0-1-4 stretch from Oct. 30-Nov. 10.

San Jose did manage to get a point in its latest defeat, a 3-2 shootout loss in Tuesday's game against the visiting New York Islanders. However, that left little cause for celebration, considering the Sharks blew a 2-0 lead in the third period against the Islanders, who had lost 10 straight coming into the meeting.

New York appeared headed to an 11th straight defeat before its third-period surge at the Shark Tank. Thomas Vanek scored just 51 seconds into the third to cut the deficit to one and Kyle Okposo, who also scored the game-winner in the shootout for the Isles, tied it with 37 seconds left in regulation.

Patrick Marleau had one goal and an assist, Joe Pavelski added a goal and Dan Boyle finished with a pair of assists for the Sharks. Antti Niemi made 26 saves in the setback.

"I thought we started the game very well," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "I thought we got a little loose in the second period and decided we wanted to trade chances, gave up some odd-number rushes. Gave up a goal in the first minute and the last minute of the third."

Tuesday's setback halted a five-game home winning streak for the Sharks, who boast an impressive 10-1-3 record as the host this season.

Prior to losing in a shootout to the Isles, the Sharks suffered their third loss in a row Sunday in Minnesota. The Wild claimed a 3-1 decision as Zach Parise potted a pair of goals and Josh Harding recorded a season-high 37 saves.

It was the fifth win for the Wild in the last seven overall meetings against the Sharks, but Minnesota has lost two straight, seven of eight and 11 of its last 13 games in Northern California.

The Wild opened the month of December with consecutive victories, but have dropped two of their last three, including Wednesday's close regulation setback in Anaheim. Anaheim's Corey Perry scored for the seventh straight game, notching the eventual game-winner with 6:33 left in the second period of the Ducks' 2-1 decision over Minnesota.

Jason Pominville potted a power-play goal in the third for the Wild to cut the deficit to 2-1 at 3:48 of the period. Charlie Coyle missed a great opportunity to even the score later in the final stanza.

Coyle charged in on a breakaway near the midpoint of the third, but Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller came up with a left pad save to deny the chance and keep the Ducks in front.

"He's a big guy and he spread out pretty good," Coyle said of Hiller. "I got too in-tight. I wish I had that one back."

Harding allowed both goals on 31 shots for the Wild, who are playing the middle test of a three-game road trip tonight before closing the swing Saturday at Colorado.

The Wild have been a different team at home and on the road this season, going 13-3-2 in St. Paul and 5-7-3 everywhere else. Wednesday's loss was the fourth straight road setback for Minnesota, which last earned a win as the guest on Nov. 23 in Winnipeg.

12/12 11:00:40 ET

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