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Wild earn franchise-record 27th victory

2/8/2003

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild set a franchise record
with their 27th victory Friday night, winning a game they probably
wouldn't have in either of their first two seasons.

Cliff Ronning followed a disallowed goal early in the third
period with one that counted 45 seconds later, lifting the Wild to
a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Minnesota trailed 2-0 barely five minutes in.

"It's fun to see this,'' coach Jacques Lemaire said. "I think
it's believing. They feel good. They know they have a chance to
come back, and they work.''

The Wild, who began the day sixth in the Western Conference,
improved to 27-18-8-1. They won 26 games last season and 25 the
year before.

"We find a way to win,'' Lemaire said. "It's a good year for
our club and we want to keep it going.''

Teemu Selanne had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who lost
for only the second time in six games.

Dwayne Roloson, fourth in the NHL in goals-against average, made
21 saves for Minnesota and is 6-4-1 in 11 starts since Manny
Fernandez sprained his knee last month.

Beginning the third period on a power play, the Wild thought
they had broken a tie that lasted nearly 30 minutes when Ronning
pushed in a loose puck near the crease.

But a delayed interference penalty was called on San Jose's Owen
Nolan, and the goal was waved off.

Given a five-on-three, Minnesota took the lead for real when
Ronning slammed in a slap shot from the point.

"I just had to regroup,'' Ronning said. "I knew I'd be on a
five-on-three, and I had to make the best of it.''

Ronning didn't think his shot was very good, but Pascal Dupuis
successfully screened Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

"It was the first time in a long time we had someone in front
of the net,'' Ronning said of the Wild's power play, which is 25th
in the league. "That was a big goal.''

Short-handed four minutes later, the Wild pulled away when Antti
Laaksonen intercepted a pass, pushed the puck along the boards,
chased it down and scored to make it 4-2. That prompted the fans
behind the San Jose net to taunt Nabokov with a chant of "Sieve!
Sieve!''

Selanne scored to pull the Sharks to 4-3 on a short, bad-angle
shot that glanced off Roloson's shoulder with 6:10 left.

San Jose, trying to climb back into the Western Conference
playoff race, got its seven-game road trip off to a great start
with two goals in the first 5:10.

"Right now they are all huge games for us,'' center Mike Ricci
said.

Selanne dug the puck out of the corner and fed a perfect pass to
Patrick Marleau, whose one-timer slid past Roloson.

Scott Hannan scored 33 seconds later for the Sharks, who are in
10th place in the West after making the playoffs each of the past
five seasons.

But the Wild, who scored 18 goals in their previous 11 games,
got a break and surged back in it with two scores of their own that
capped a four-goal outburst in a span of 1:57.

"It was just one of those nights,'' Sharks coach Ron Wilson
said.

Ricci, whose five-game point streak ended, inadvertently knocked
the puck into his own net on a goal credited to Richard Park.

The puck rolled the length of the goal line and trickled in when
Nabokov lunged at it.

"It popped up, and I didn't want to let it hit the ice,'' Ricci
said. "I was trying to bat it behind the net.''

Dupuis broke away from Sharks defender Mike Rathje and scored 44
seconds later to tie it at 2.

"Right now everybody is trying to do too much,'' Nabokov said.

Game notes
San Jose won its first game at Xcel Energy Center in
October 2000, but the Sharks haven't won here since in six tries.
... Marleau, the Sharks' second-leading scorer behind Selanne, has
six points (three goals) in his last four games. ... Park and
Dupuis both broke seven-game goal droughts. ... Lemaire said
Fernandez would probably return to the net either Sunday at New
Jersey or Monday at Philadelphia.