Spurgeon scores in OT, Wild beat Sharks to take playoff spot

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jared Spurgeon scored his second goal of the game 1:05 into overtime to send the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs with a 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Kevin Fiala, Dmitry Kulikov and Matt Boldy also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to help Minnesota wrap up its 12th playoff berth.

The Wild have 101 points, one behind St. Louis for second place in the Central Division after the Blues beat Nashville on Sunday. The Predators and idle Dallas have 91 points as the top-two wild card teams.

Rudolfs Balcers, Matt Nieto, Noah Gregor and Nick Bonino scored for San Jose. The Sharks trailed 2-0 midway through the first period, then nearly stalled Minnesota’s playoff bid for a day.

James Reimer stopped 23 shots for the Sharks. They are winless in their last 10 games and were coming off a 2-1 loss in Dallas the previous night.

The Wild controlled the ice early, looking like a team headed to the playoffs against the struggling Sharks.

Kulikov scored just his sixth goal of the season after Fiala skated across the slot and gave the defenseman a drop pass. Just 1:25 later, Spurgeon sent a shot from deep at the corner blue line through traffic to beat Reimer.

San Jose recovered quickly.

Balcers scored his 10th goal before the end of the first with a wrist shot. Thomas Bordeleau, making his NHL debut, recovered the puck and passed to Balcers for his first career assist.

Nieto tied it 1:19 into the second when he was sprung free by a behind-the-back pass from Bonino, outraced the defense and snapped a shot past Fleury.

Minnesota took another lead on Boldy’s 14th goal, but the Sharks answered again when Fleury gave up a rebound right in front and Gregor was there to score on the loose puck.

After Bonino gave San Jose its first lead 1:37 into the third, Fiala tied it by deflecting a shot from Jordie Benn as he was leaping in front of Reimer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Host Columbus on Tuesday night.

Wild: At Montreal on Tuesday night.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Brian Hall, The Associated Press

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