THE STORY: Patrick Marleau may no longer be the San Jose Sharks’ captain, but he’s certainly leading by example. Marleau collected a goal and two assists on Saturday as the Sharks posted their fourth straight win and eighth in 10 games (8-1-1) with a 5-2 triumph over the Washington Capitals. Marleau has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games and will look to continue his impressive streak on Tuesday when the Sharks visit the MinnesotaWild. With his next point, Marleau will have 800 for his career. While Marleau has been nearly unstoppable, Minnesota has had difficulty stopping anyone as of late. The Wild have dropped three in a row and 11 of their last 12 – with stern tests against heavyweights Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Toronto on the horizon. Despite the daunting schedule, Cal Clutterbuck isn’t worried. “Even when we were winning, it seemed people were down on us. People are down on us again,” Clutterbuck said. “We like proving people wrong. Now we can do it again.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCS, TSN2
ABOUT THE SHARKS (23-11-4): To say that the defense stepped up in the team’s victory on Saturday is an understatement. Blue-liners Jason Demers, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored goals in the triumph, marking the first time that three Sharks defensemen have tallied in a single game since Nov. 1, 2009 versus Carolina. “Six points is a big contribution from the back end,” said Vlasic, who noted the defensemen’s three assists as well. “To get shots through, to get rewarded, it’s good to see.”
ABOUT THE WILD (21-15-6): When Minnesota dispatched San Jose by a 2-1 count on Dec. 6, the Wild were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and looked to be a major player in the Western Conference. The wheels came off shortly thereafter. G Niklas Backstrom has seen his goals-against average balloon to coincide with the team’s losing skid. Former Shark Dany Heatley netted his team-leading 13th goal of the season in a 3-1 loss to theCalgary Flames on Saturday.
1. Sharks G Antti Niemi has posted a 4-1-0 career mark with a 1.61 goals-against average against the Wild.
2. Wild C Kyle Brodziak has collected just two assists in his last 10 games.
PREDICTION: Sharks 4, Wild 1