SAN JOSE -- Trying to get his team back on track after four straight losses, Sharks coach Todd McLellan is going with a formula that brought the team success early in the season.

McLellan is turning to a third line of Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels and rookie Matt Nieto for Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Wild. They opened the season together, but injuries elsewhere and Nieto cooling off broke them up Nov. 5.

If those three are going to have an impact again, the coach suggested, his top two lines need to be getting the job done as well. Tyler Kennedy skated alongside Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau at the morning skate while the line of Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns was kept intact.

"When you look at a line, you have to look at what the other people are doing around them," McLellan said, noting the one of his other lines was very strong at shutting down the opposition and the other often benefited from a mismatch.

"It opened up a lot of time and space for Pav, Matt and Tommy," McLellan said. "With them getting back together, they have that opportunity to have that success again, but they need help. They need the other lines to be doing what they're supposed to be doing."

McLellan has made it clear he prefers to use Pavelski as a third-line center, but had him on a line with Couture and Marleau the past two games.

"They were our best line as far as creating offense," McLellan said of that line against the Islanders, "but they were also on the ice for both goals against. Guess what? We didn't get the points either. Again, we're a work in progress, moving people around to try and find the right combinations."

Pavelski said he is fine in the third-line role if it leads to wins. And he likes the speed that Wingels and Nieto bring.

"They're good players. Fast line. When we're moving and supporting each other that's when we'll be good, and that has to be there for us," Pavelski said. "If you can find that offensive punch from a third line, kind of like we had early, it makes it tough on the other teams."

  • Minnesota beat San Jose 3-1 at the Xcel Energy Center with Wild netminder Josh Harding making 37 saves. Harding played Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss in Anaheim and Niklas Backstrom will be in net for Minnesota, facing Antti Niemi.