Wild shows life in win over Sharks

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 27, 2012 - 6:49 AM

In what could have been a showcase game before the trade deadline, the team showed it was more ready to fight on than fold.

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Look at the standings, do the math, understand the reality of how tough it is to make up ground in the NHL, and one begins to recognize the uphill climb for the Wild to make the playoffs is Mount Everest-like.

That's why coach Mike Yeo told his team it's time to forget the standings and play hockey.

The Wild did just that Sunday night, overcoming an early deficit, a late deficit and rallying to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3, thanks to goals from such unlikely characters as Nick Schultz and Jed Ortmeyer.

The come-from-behind win, triggered by Matt Cullen's late tying goal and Ortmeyer's winner with 4 minutes, 13 seconds remaining, still left the Wild five points back with 20 games to go and four teams to leapfrog.

That's why it'll be interesting to see how General Manager Chuck Fletcher attacks Monday's 2 p.m. trade deadline. Does he sell?

According to sources, Schultz, the Wild's all-time games played leader with 743, has generated interest in recent days. Also, both the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs have kicked tires about goalie Josh Harding and there is interest in defenseman Greg Zanon.

Both Harding and Zanon are in the last year of their deals. Teams have also inquired about defenseman Mike Lundin, but according to sources, he has a hernia and, after taking a steroid shot, won't know for a week if he can even play again this season.

Selling could be pulling the plug, but as Yeo said, the ultimate goal is, "How do we get to a point where we can eventually win a Stanley Cup?" If that means selling, Yeo said, "I trust the people that are making those decisions."

Schultz, 29, was drafted in 2000. He's the longest-tenured professional athlete in Minnesota and one of the most popular Wild teammates. Sunday, he scored his first goal since Jan. 2, 2011, ending a 100-game drought.

Schultz, who has two years left on his deal at $3.6 million annually, hopes he's not traded, "especially because I'm hot," he joked. "I want to be here. I want to be a part of it. This is where I've been right from the start since I was drafted. I want to make it work here. So I'm hoping nothing happens, but it's part of the business."

Zanon, a gritty, shot-blocking vet, understands the business, too, saying, "It's not in my hands."

Harding has heard all the trade rumors.

"It's not even if you're paying attention. It's people in your life paying attention," Harding said. "I've heard a lot of stuff. A lot. I love it here."

Sunday's victory was as good as it gets. Down 2-0 by the 3:21 mark, the Wild drew a Bronx cheer when Marco Scandella took a center-ice slapper for the game's first shot, 5 1/2 minutes in.

By the end, fans were serenading the Wild with a standing O.

Cal Clutterbuck got the rally started with an end-to-end rush and tally. In a one-sided second period where Yeo said, "We took it to them," Schultz tied the score on a power play.

Former Wild defenseman Brent Burns gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead, but with 5:27 left, Cullen redirected Scandella's shot after a great shift from newcomer Nick Palmieri.

Soon after, Ortmeyer, who hadn't scored since March 28, 2010, when he played for the Sharks, redirected Jared Spurgeon's shot. "Big thrill," Ortmeyer said of his 22nd career goal and third winner.

Maybe reacquiring Kurtis Foster was contagious. The Wild scored three goals off point shots -- something Yeo has been begging for.

"I knew that we were getting in the trade a guy that would shoot the puck from the blue line. I didn't know it was going to make everybody else want to shoot the puck every time they touched it," Yeo joked.

  • WILD 4, SAN JOSE 3

    Up next: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. L.A.

    Xcel • TV: NBCSP (100.3-FM)

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