SAN JOSE – Patrick Marleau scored two goals and Antti Niemi maintained his mastery of the Minnesota Wild Thursday as the San Jose Sharks posted a 3-1 victory at sold-out HP Pavilion.
Marleau struck for two goals in the second period as the Sharks claimed their ninth win in 14 games. San Jose has 19 points in second place in the Pacific Division.
Niemi, 6-2-1 this season, is 4-0-0 against the Wild in his career.
The Sharks continue the six-game homestand Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Wild brought a five-game winning streak and three former Sharks to town. Entering play, Dany Heatley topped the Wild in scoring with 10 points, Devin Setoguchi was tied for third with eight points and Brad Staubitz paced Minnesota with 27 penalty minutes.
Minnesota was called for two penalties in the second period and Marleau took advantage of both extra-skater opportunities to give San Jose a 2-0 cushion.
After Wild center Pierre-Marc Bouchard was called for hooking Torrey Mitchell at 1:41 of the second, Marleau scored 53 seconds later.
Dan Boyle fired a shot from the blueline that goaltender Niklas Backstrom stopped. The short rebound went toward the left circle. Both Backstrom and defenseman Justin Falk tried to clear the puck, but the puck slipped past Falk and into the circle where an advancing Marleau backhanded it past Backstrom for his fifth goal of the season.
“There was a miscommunication there,” Marleau said of his chance to open the scoring. “I found a little trash and put it in.”
After Wild Marco Scandella was penalized for tripping Logan Couture at 13:45, the Sharks needed 1:49 to take the 2-0 lead.
Marleau was unmarked at the top of the right circle when he received Ryane Clowe’s no-look cross-ice pass and one-timed a shot over Backstrom for his sixth of the year. Both Clowe and Brent Burns, the former Wild, were credited with assists.
San Jose’s third goal came one second after the puck was dropped in the right face-off circle. Mitchell one-timed Michal Handzus’s face-off win inside the left post for his first goal of the season at 18:39 of the second.
Kyle Brodziak stopped Niemi’s bid for a first shut-out this season with a goal from the inside edge of the right circle off a Marek Zidlicky pass at 13:33 of the third period.
San Jose finished with a 36-22 edge in shots on net.