Sharks take Pacific lead, hurt Wild’s playoff chances

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The San Jose Sharks rank as the West’s most explosive offense, but Monday serves as a reminder that they can win the sort of suffocating game we’re likely to see more of during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thanks in part to the Sharks’ 3-0 win, it’s fair to question if the Minnesota Wild will be part of the upcoming postseason.

Minnesota simply couldn’t get much going against the Sharks, as Martin Jones pitched a 24-save shutout. Jones has actually shut out the Wild in consecutive occasions in Minnesota. Barclay Goodrow scored the game-winner, while Logan Couture‘s penalty-shot goal served as one of the more exciting moments in what was mostly a tightly checked game.

The Sharks have now won five games in a row, also showing that they can win games with Erik Karlsson on the shelf. (Such wins have to make it that much easier not to be tempted into forcing Karlsson into the mix sooner than the Sharks should.)

With five consecutive wins, the Sharks are now on top of the Pacific Division with 92 points in 69 games played. It’s not a big edge, as the Flames are at 91 points in the 69 GP, but that’s a clear advantage for the Sharks. Considering how strong the Golden Knights look, finishing second in the Pacific could really sting.

That’s especially true depending upon which teams end up finishing as the West’s two wild-card entries. If the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs began on Monday night, the Wild would be San Jose’s first-round opponent, as both the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche also lost on Monday.

If the Wild wanted to make a series of it, they’d have to dig deeper than they did on Monday, because it seems like the Sharks can win in several different ways.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.