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Matt Boldy breaks tie early in 3rd, Wild beat NHL-worst Sharks 3-1

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Matt Boldy broke a tie 18 seconds into the third period and the Minnesota Wild beat the NHL-worst San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Thursday to pick up a couple of points in their slim playoff bid.

Joel Eriksson Ek also scored, Ryan Hartman added an empty-net goal and Kirill Kaprizov had two assists. Filip Gustavsson made 26 saves and assisted on Hartman’s goal to help Minnesota improve to 7-1-3 in its last 11 games.

“It comes down to the guys in our locker room playing the right way and finding a way to win,” Boldy said.

Minnesota is nine points back of Vegas for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference and three points behind St. Louis. Minnesota has 10 games left, the next against the Golden Knights on Saturday.

“It’s better to still be in it than to be completely out and start thinking about golf clubs or something like that. We put ourselves in this situation and you have to deal with it,” Gustavsson said.

Mikael Granlund scored and Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 29 shots for the Sharks. San Jose, which has an NHL-worst 40 points, has dropped nine straight and 18 of 19. However, this marked the first time in eight games the Sharks allowed fewer than four goals.

“We’re dying for a win here,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “I feel for our guys, although you got to play 60, you can’t play 40.”

On the go-ahead goal, Boldy centered for Kaprizov, whose shot was partially blocked by a defenseman. The puck squirted to the left of the net where Boldy lifted in a backhander for his 25th goal of the season.

“I think we did a really good first period and bad second period and pretty bad third, I think, too. But we got a win so that’s the most important,” said Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, who returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Having not played in five days, the Wild dominated the first period, recording 16 of the 17 shots, finally breaking through on a give-and-go between Eriksson Ek and Kaprizov with the latter threading a pass between two defenders for the former below the left circle.

Eriksson Ek was back in the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He’s second on the Wild with 61 points, including a career-high 30 goals.

“Ekky’s a guy that does it the right way all the time,” coach John Hynes said.

With 36 goals and 45 assists of the season, Kaprizov is the first player in Wild history with multiple 80-point seasons. He had 108 points in 2021-22.

Granlund tied it midway through the second period off a three-on-one rush. He tried to pass across, but the puck deflected off the stick of defenseman Declan Chisholm and Granlund swatted it home.

“The first period didn’t go our way, but I thought they responded well and deserved points tonight,” Blackwood said.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At ​St. Louis on Saturday night.

Wild: Host Vegas on Saturday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

By MIKE COOK
Associated Press

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