ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-4 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.
It’s the Wild’s third consecutive postseason appearance and ninth in the past 10 seasons. They remained in second place in the Central Division, one point behind the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Nashville Predators 8-3 on Sunday.
“It’s always nice to make the playoffs,” Minnesota forward kevin fiala said. “It’s a tough league. It’s the hardest league in the world. You want to do it every year, so it’s just great. Just great for us to make it. That was our goal from the beginning, and we’re here right now , but it’s nothing. [regular season] and we still have seven more to go. And still the second place (in the Central Division), still the home advantage there we want to take. And from there it starts. The playoff is not here yet.”
jared spurgeon won it at 1:05 of overtime when he tipped in a shot from Fiala, who tied it 4-4 at 8:54 of the third period when jordie benn‘s one-timer deflected in off him as he was cutting across the crease.
“I think you can tell when [Fiala’s] taking over a game,” Spurgeon said. “He’s so dynamic. He’s strong on his skates, and he can shoot, he can pass, and it’s fun to watch when he gets going. He has that confidence all the time. But just right now, it seems to be like pucks are finding him and he’s working very hard.”
Video: SJS@MIN: Spurgeon tips a shot into net for OT winner
Fiala had a goal and three assists, Spurgeon scored twice, Matt Boldy had a goal and an assist, and Frederick Gaudreau had three assists for Minnesota (47-21-7) which is 4-0-1 in its past five games and 13-1-3 in its past 17. Marc-André Fleury made 26 saves.
Rudolfs Balcers, Noah Gregor and Nick Bonino each had a goal and an assist for San Jose (29-34-12) which has lost 10 straight (0-6-4). James Reimer made 23 saves.
“It’s crazy how close we are on a lot of nights,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “I’ve never been through anything like this as a coach or as a player, losing this many games.
“The first thing as a coach you want your team to do is play hard, be competitive, be hard to play against. Those things are all happening. That’s a real important part. The rest will follow. It’s a process here and we said this over the last two years, it’s slow and it’s painful sometimes, but there’s things going on that are good. of these lately.”
Video: SJS@MIN: Fiala deflects in a shot to even the score
Dmitry Kulikov put the Wild ahead 1-0 at 6:04 of the first period with a slap shot from the point off a drop pass from Fiala.
Spurgeon made it 2-0 at 7:29 when his slap shot from the right point deflected in off the stick of Brent Burns.
Balcers cut it to 2-1 at 9:38 with a soft shot that went under Fleury’s pads. Thomas Bordeauxwho was making his NHL debut, had the primary assist on the play.
“I just remember kind of picking it up in the corner and then try to pass it to ‘D’ up top, and then kind of looking up and then seeing the other Minnesota forward, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not really a good play,'” Bordeleau said. “But somehow it got through and got lucky and my linemate just got a good shot off of it and, obviously, it went in.”
matt grandson tied the game 2-2 at 1:19 of the second period after Bonino forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sprung him for a partial breakaway down the right wing.
Boldy put Minnesota back in front 3-2 at 6:37, getting the rebound in front off a shot from Gaudreau.
Video: SJS@MIN: Boldy finds a loose puck and buries its
Boldy has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) during a personal seven-game point streak.
Gregor tied the game 3-3 at 11:11 on a rebound in front, and Bonino gave the Sharks a 4-3 lead at 1:37 of the third period with a shorthanded goal.
“We almost got what we deserved tonight,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We were very fortunate, really, to have success in that game.”
NOTES: Fiala has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in a six-game point streak. … The Sharks are 0-4-4 in their past eight games. Of those eight losses, six were decided by one goal, and the other two were one-goal games before the opposition scored an empty-net goal in the final minute. … The Wild have scored at least three goals in 16 of their past 17 games. … Gaudreau extended his point streak to a career-high four games (three goals, five assists).