SAN JOSE Logan Couture would have been thrilled for Wild rookie goaltender Matt Hackett under any other circumstance.Hackett, making his first career appearance in an NHL game, stopped all 34 shots he faced in relief of Josh Harding in leading Minnesota to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. Couture and Hackett grew up just a few houses down from one another in Guelph, Ontario.Numerous times this summer and last summer I said he was going to play in the NHL and he was going to be a good NHL goalie, and hes got a bright future ahead of him, said Couture.
That was on display as the Sharks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Harding, only to be shut down the rest of the way by Hackett when Harding was knocked out of the game early in the first period. Minnesota survived an early onslaught by the Sharks, who jumped out to a whopping 16-0 advantage in shots on goal and 1-0 lead early in the first period. A pair of goals later in the first by the Wild, though, ended up being all of the the scoring for the game.The biggest disappointment for the Sharks, other than the defeat, may be that they wasted the strong start they were looking for in rebounding from a poor effort in Saturdays 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Not only did San Jose put 42 shots on net, but the Sharks missed the net 18 times and had 33 shots blocked, for a whopping 93 attempts total.Obviously, it was a better effort. The execution was a bit better besides the fact that we didnt finish like we wanted, said Ryane Clowe. The opportunities that we got were because of some good plays.Todd McLellan, who punished the Sharks by canceling a day off after the loss to Florida, was also more pleased with his teams effort.Theres some frustration. You can feel it on the bench and in the locker room, because tonight the work ethic was a lot better than it was against Florida the other night, said the coach. We played a lot crisper and a lot sharper, but we werent rewarded for it. There are still things we need to work on that we have to get better in, but our overall game improved and thats a good sign.One obvious aspect that needs work continues to be the penalty kill, and special teams in general. Leading 1-0, the Sharks had a golden opportunity to increase their lead when Cody Almond was whistled for high-sticking Joe Thornton at 10:45 of the first period.San Jose had some good looks at the net, and did a good job creating havoc around the goal crease, but was unable to capitalize. Clowe had perhaps the best chance, but he fanned on a one-time attempt from the slot. The Sharks are just 1-for-14 on the power play in the last four games.Couture said: We created some chances. Obviously you want to score when you have four minutes, and I thought we did create some positive momentum, but unfortunately they came back and scored one.Less than three minutes after the Sharks extended power play ended, the Wild tied it up, and it was former Shark Dany Heatley who helped create the equalizer. A subtle dip of his shoulder dropped Dan Boyle to the ice, and Heatley skated around him cutting towards the slot. He fired a shot that Antti Niemi stopped, but Mikko Koivu was there to deposit the rebound.The Sharks' penalty kill, which entered the game last in the league both at home and overall, faltered in surrendering what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 19:48 of the first.A trip to Torrey Mitchell at 19:11 of the first gave the Wild their first power play of the game, and they capitalized. Pierre-Marc Bouchard fired a one-timer on a cross-ice pass from Koivu under the right arm of Niemi, who was moving from his left to his right.We got a little sloppy in front of the net for a little bit in the first and they had a few chances, said Boyle. Otherwise, they play a pretty patient game. They dont come at you with a lot of heat. They force you make mistakes. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game, but youre not going to win too many games scoring one goal.Hackett, the nephew of former Sharks goalie Jeff Hackett, entered the game just 1:11 into the first period after Harding was inadvertently elbowed by his own teammate, Nick Schultz. The Wild defenseman was trying to hold off a charging Joe Pavelski after Patrick Marleau threw one on net, when he bowled over Harding. The Sharks led 1-0 at the time.That goal came at the one-minute mark when a Boyle shot on Harding bounced out to the slot, where Pavelski spun around and whacked it in.The Sharks kept coming in waves as the period progressed, but Hackett made good saves on a blast by Brent Burns about four minutes into the game, and Jim Vandermeer a few minutes later.Could we have got it to 2-0 or 3-0? That would have been probably what we needed, obviously, said McLellan.It didnt happen, though, as the Sharks have now lost four of their last five games courtesy of Coutures childhood friend.Great kid, but I didnt like what he did to us tonight, said Couture.Odds and ends: Matt Hackett was dressed only because regular starter Niklas Backstrom is recovering from a groin injury. Douglas Murray did not play, recovering from a right hand injury. Justin Braun took his place in the lineup, while Colin White was scratched. The Sharks won the faceoff battle for the ninth straight game, 31-26. Todd McLellan bumped Patrick Marleau from the top line to the third line, while putting Brad Winchester with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for much of the third period. Former Shark Devin Setoguchi suffered an apparent lower body in the game and played just 2:51. San Jose has not won a regulation game since Nov. 23, a 1-0 win over Chicago.