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Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, March 17th

Mar 18, 2011, 2:33 AM EDT

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Patrick Marleau, Niklas Backstrom AP

To read about the happenings in the Eastern Conference playoff bubble, click here. For recaps of six other games, check out this story. Finally, let’s take a look at the two contests that ended past most peoples’ green beer drinking nightcaps.

San Jose 3, Minnesota 2

The Wild are spiraling out of the playoff race, having gone 2-6-1 in their last nine games including another tough one-goal loss to an elite Western team. This time, it was the San Jose Sharks, as Minnesota lost four games in a row during regulation.

Niklas Backstrom was fantastic in defeat, making 47 stops as the Wild fought hard even though they came up short. According to the AP report, two of the Sharks’ three goals went off of his own teammates. He managed to help Minnesota earn a 1-1 tie in the second period despite the fact that San Jose out-shot them 21-9. Antti Niemi faced 20 less shots by going 28 for 30 in his 28th win of the season.

Joe Pavelski earned two assists and Patrick Marleau had a goal as the Sharks hit 90 points on the season, improving their Pacific Division lead to three points over the Phoenix Coyotes.

St. Louis 4, Los Angeles 0

Matt D’Agostini is quietly on a hot streak right now, having scored three goals and two assists in his last five games. That counts the Blues’ first two goals tonight, which obviously includes the game winner thanks to a relatively uneventful 17-save shutout.

Alex Pietrangelo scored a goal and assist as well, as St. Louis had a good time playing spoiler (while also making themselves more desirable for a new buyer, maybe?).

The Kings are still at fifth place with 85 points, but their comfort zone just about dried up.

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