SAN JOSE, CALIF. – When the Wild reunited for practice Sunday after taking two days off, the team went through a shootout even though none of its games this season had lasted that long.
The tune-up proved timely, but it didn't help the Wild outlast the Sharks, who prevailed in the eighth round Monday to snag a 4-3 win at SAP Center that snapped the Wild's three-game win streak at the start of a four-game road trip.
"There was a lot of guys to choose from," coach Dean Evason said. "Unfortunately we didn't score more than they did."
San Jose's Erik Karlsson delivered the decisive goal after scoring twice in regulation during a game that was much more competitive than expected.
While the Wild was resting over the weekend, San Jose was getting creamed by Arizona to continue its shaky season. This matchup looked like a perfect one for the Wild to rediscover its stride against an opponent stranded near the bottom of the West Division.
Instead, it was the Sharks who set the tone early — playing keep-away from the Wild in the first period while peppering goalie Cam Talbot with shots.
"We thought our energy was good," Evason said. "Our legs maybe weren't at the start, so we got off to a little bit of a slow start."
Not until the second half of the period did the Wild register its first shot, a lopsided feel reminiscent of the team's final showing before its hiatus when the Wild tied the franchise record for fewest shots in a game with 11 in a 2-0 victory over St. Louis.
Like that night, though, the Wild again opened the scoring despite getting outplayed.
After missing the net on a slight breakaway, Kevin Fiala scooped up the loose puck and fed Marcus Johansson for a successful shot in the slot at 12 minutes, 41 seconds. The goal was Johansson's second in as many games, the first time he's scored in back-to-back games since Oct. 7-9, 2019.
That advantage was short-lived because San Jose pulled even on a point shot from Radim Simek at 16:04. But the Wild answered back before the period ended, scoring with one minute to go on a silky sequence from a new line.
Jordan Greenway passed off to Joel Eriksson Ek, and he toe-dragged around the Sharks' Nikolai Knyzhov before sending a cross-slot pass for Nick Bonino to bury into the back of the net.
"That was one of the easiest ones I've scored," Bonino said. "It was a beautiful play."
Usually a center, Bonino lined up at right wing next to Greenway and Eriksson Ek — a promotion from the fourth line in recognition of his recent strong play, which continued at his new address in the lineup.
"For the most part, I thought it was pretty good as a line," Bonino said.
Still, the first period was mostly dominated by the Sharks, who put 18 shots on net. And they didn't go away in the second even though the Wild found some more cohesiveness in its structure, even killing off the game's only penalty.
With 4:15 remaining in the middle frame, San Jose tied the game for a second time after Karlsson finished off a 2-on-1 pass from Evander Kane.
That momentum carried over to the third, where Karlsson's blistering point shot at 4:11 gave the Sharks their first lead in the game, but it didn't last long.
Soon after a Johansson shot hit the post, Fiala corralled the loose puck and wired it past San Jose goalie Martin Jones at 9:48 for his 10th goal and third multi-point game of the season. Johansson also secured his second point of the game on the play with an assist.
"We thought that line was real good again, likely one of Kevin's strongest games in a while," Evason said.
That finish paved the way for 3-on-3 overtime where captain Jared Spurgeon had a goal disallowed for redirecting the puck in with a high stick.
In the shootout, Fiala and Mats Zuccarello scored after Kirill Kaprizov missed the net on his first career try. Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc converted for the Sharks to pull even with the Wild through three attempts, setting up a stalemate that lasted until Round 8.
"I knew what I'm going to do," Fiala said. "I'm going to go left side and see what is open and shoot it."
Talbot, who was making a season-high fourth straight start, ended up with 36 saves. Jones had 22 stops at the other end.
"There's no quit in this group," Johansson said. "That's always a good sign. You're not going to win every game, and Talbs gave us a great chance to win this game and in the shootout, as well. It just wasn't our night."