Zach Parise and Jason Pominville returned from the mumps, while Eric Staal found his scoring touch as the Minnesota Wild were finally able to put their new-look lineup together.
Staal scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 20 saves as Minnesota held on for a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Pominville assisted on Parise’s 15th goal to open the scoring as the Minnesota Wild won for the third time in four games.
Parise and Pominville each returned after missing three games as Minnesota had their full lineup on the ice for the first time since trading for Martin Hanzal and Ryan White.
“Big, strong guys, tough to play against,” Staal said of the retooled lineup. “When we have that going over the boards every shift, four lines that can play solid defensively, it’s going to make us difficult to beat. Good win for us to stay with it tonight. We’ve just got to keep improving, getting better, grabbing roles and being excited about winning like this.”
The Wild (90 points) moved back ahead of idle Chicago (89 points) for first place in the Central Division and the Western Conference.
Melker Karlsson scored for San Jose, who had won three in a row and had an eight-game point streak snapped. Martin Jones stopped 25 of 27 shots.
“There wasn’t a lot of space and I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s the kind of night where you need a power-play goal or something. You’ve got to win the special teams battles to win that game and we didn’t.”
Pacific Division-leading San Jose were none for three on the power play and are four of 32 with the man advantage (12.5 percent) over their past 12 games.
Leading the conference standings at the time, Minnesota made a move to fortify their lines by acquiring Hanzal and White from Arizona on Feb. 26. The next day, prior to a game against the Los Angeles Kings, the team announced Parise and Pominville had been diagnosed with the mumps.
Parise scored 11 minutes in when he deftly deflected a pass from Pominville between his legs and the legs of goalie Jones.
Staal had gone 18 games with just one goal, against Nashville five games ago. He gave the Wild a two-goal lead after Matt Dumba collected a loose puck in the corner and made a spinning pass right to Staal’s stick in the right circle.
Staal added another empty-netter for his fourth two-goal game of the season.
The Wild thought they scored another goal, but Chris Stewart’s shot ended up in Jones’ jersey as the goaltender fell backward into the net.
A video review showed the puck got caught in the jersey, but never crossed the line.
“I felt it hit me, but yeah, I wasn’t sure what happened,” Jones said.
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