Final

Series (Game 4 of 4)

Minnesota leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 31st
Sharks1Final
OT
Wild2
Game 2: Saturday, November 9th
Wild4Final
Sharks2
Game 3: Saturday, January 25th
Wild1Final
Sharks4
Game 4: Friday, February 7th
Sharks3Final
Wild4

Sharks 3

(20-22-5, 51 pts)

Wild 4

(27-18-1, 63 pts)

8:00 PM ET, February 7, 2003

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
SJ 2 0 13
MIN 2 0 24

P. Dupuis (Wild - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

R. Park (Wild - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Laaksonen (Wild - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Wild earn franchise-record 27th victory

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
Ronning

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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