SAN JOSE – If Marc-Edouard Vlasic is worried about having a potential target on his back for tonight’s Sharks-Wild game at HP Pavilion, he wasn’t letting on.
Vlasic’s takedown of Dany Heatley at the end of the previous game between the two clubs on April 3 resulted in season-ending shoulder surgery for the former Sharks forward. Vlasic was fined for a slash that occurred just prior to a nasty scrum in front of the net as time expired, too.
“We’re focused on playing a hard game. We don’t want to let two points slip away, and neither do they,” Vlasic said.
The intensity has been ratcheted up of late as the battle for playoff spots and position is in full swing. Tuesday’s Sharks-Kings game was the latest example of that, as the two teams that obviously dislike one another left everything on the ice in a 3-2 shootout win for San Jose.
Thursday’s game against Minnesota has the potential to be the same kind of game, as there is bound to be some emotional carryover from that match just two weeks ago. With a regulation win, the Wild would move ahead of the Sharks and grab the fifth playoff spot. If San Jose wins in regulation, it would open up a four-point lead on the Wild, and greatly improve its chances of capturing home ice in the first round.
“To me, the way the game played out and the way the game went, it seemed like they were a little bit more upset with stuff that was going on than we were,” Adam Burish said of the Sharks' 4-2 win over the Wild on April 3. “That means we were doing something right.”
“It seems like the games are a little nastier and a little more on the line, but it’s fun. This is a fun time of the year.”
According to Dan Boyle, the Sharks haven’t thought about potential playoff opponents yet, even though they need just five points over the last five games to guarantee a postseason berth.
“We’re not in, by any means. Columbus is playing really well right now, and Detroit is going to push at the end,” he said. “We want to get in. The only way to do that is to put a few more in the win column.”
Todd McLellan said: “Nobody is feeling comfortable yet, other than maybe Chicago and Anaheim. Everyone else is still battling.”
Minnesota will be going for its third straight win after a three-game losing streak, while the Sharks still have just one regulation loss at home (15-1-5).