ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Martin Hanzal and Charlie Coyle scored 15 seconds apart for Minnesota late in the second period, and the Wild stopped a five-game losing streak by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
David Schlemko and Patrick Marleau had goals for the Sharks shortly before the second intermission, too, giving each team two scores in a 63-second span to set a record for the fastest four-goal stretch in Wild history.
Martin Jones made 24 saves for the Sharks, who lost their season-high fourth straight game.
Matt Dumba scored on a power play in the first period to give the Wild a recently rare early lead, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 21 shots for his 37th win — tied for second-most in the NHL. Minnesota improved to 3-8 in March.
Among the league leaders all winter but slumping at a critical time, two teams struggling to recapture their rhythm badly needed the two points on this night.
After playing more than four months without consecutive losses until their slide accelerated two weeks ago, the Wild have fallen behind rival Chicago in the Central Division chase after leading the Western Conference for most of the season.
They held the ominous players-only, closed-door meeting on Sunday after a 5-4 loss to Winnipeg when they outshot the Jets 48-21. Entering the evening, the Wild trailed the Blackhawks by seven points with one game in hand but now only nine games to go.
The Wild cut their magic number for clinching at least a wild-card spot to two.
San Jose’s arrival represented the fourth opponent among the NHL’s top seven teams over the Wild’s last six games, but the Sharks brought their own problems with only two goals in their previous three games, all regulation losses.
Anaheim, Edmonton and Calgary have surged into contention for the Pacific Division title, too, shrinking the Sharks’ lead to four points over the Ducks and Oilers, and five points over the Flames.
Dumba became the 11th player to reach the 10-goal mark for the Wild this season, matching his career high with a roof-of-the-net shot set up by a stretched-out, one-touch pass from Zach Parise after Eric Staal plucked the puck off the boards. The Wild have the most potent home power play in the league, entering the game with a conversion rate of nearly 30 percent.
Minnesota held a 16-4 edge in shots on goal at one point, before letting the Sharks find their footing. Jones helped by making some sharp saves, and Schlemko’s wrist shot from the blue line with 2:03 left in the second period tied the game after the puck blew through traffic and bounced off Wild defenseman Marco Scandella.
Hanzal answered with his first goal in 10 games with the Wild since being acquired in a trade with Arizona, and Coyle followed off another setup by Parise with a one-timer for a 3-1 lead before Marleau brought the Sharks closer.
NOTES: Jones gave up more than two goals for the first time in nine games. ... The Wild swept the season series, winning all three games, for the first time in their history. They’re 9-1-1 against San Jose in the last 11 meetings at home. ... The Wild have gone 11 straight home games without allowing a power-play goal.
San Jose: The Sharks continue their four-game Central Division tour with another visit on Friday to Dallas for a strange second meeting this week with the Stars.
Minnesota: The Wild play the second leg on their three-game homestand Thursday, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers.