Trailing by a couple of goals, the Wild had the San Jose Sharks right where they wanted them.
As ridiculous as that sounds, the Wild have made a habit of erasing deficits this season, then turning them into unlikely wins.
Unfortunately for the Wild, they couldn’t complete the comeback on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center, falling 4-3 to the Sharks in regulation.
A back-and-forth contest ended with former Wild defenseman Brent Burns scoring the game-winning goal for the Sharks. It was an incredible effort by Burns as he dangled through traffic in front and then beat goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen with a backhand flip.
While the Wild will lament some of their missed chances, especially late in the game, they probably didn’t deserve to win based on their body of work. As dynamic as the Wild were down the stretch, they also struggled for a good chunk of the game.
That said, it was a fast start for the Wild on this particular night with Zach Parise skillfully finishing off a pretty feed from Kirill Kaprizov early in the first period to make it 1-0. It was a heck of an effort by Kaprizov, who started the sequence with a cheeky play along the boards, then found Parise with a pinpoint pass near the slot.
Truthfully, the Wild didn’t deserve to be leading at intermission, and fittingly, Ryan Donato tied the game at 1-1 late in the first period with a goal against his former team.
That paved the way for the second period where the Wild continued to struggle in both ends the Sharks made them pay. It started with a goal from Evander Kane, who made it 2-1 after a turnover from Marcus Foligno in the neutral zone.
While it looked like the Wild tied it a couple of minutes later, the Sharks challenged the play, and the officials ruled that Nick Bjugstad actually interfered with goaltender Martin Jones in the crease. That nullified the goal, and less than a minute later, Noah Gregor made it 3-1 in favor of the Sharks.
That seemed to wake up the Wild. Just like it did on the season-opening road trip. They finished the second period with a flurry with Bjugstad scoring a goal, for real time time, to cut the deficit to 3-2.
That push from the Wild continued into the third period and Kevin Fiala tied the game at 3-3 with his second goal in as many games.
That simply set the stage for Burns to play hero with a backbreaking goal to make it 4-3 late. Matt Nieto then finalized the score at 5-3 with an empty-net goal as the Sharks emerged victorious.