ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Under different circumstances, the Sharks might have gone through a hard skate Saturday, trying to get some of the kinks out of their game.

Or maybe an extended video session, where coaches could point to specific moments that cost them dearly against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes.

San Jose, after all, has just lost two straight games in regulation for the first time all season, and that's often the direction a team goes at this point, where the goal is to keep that streak from reaching three when the Sharks face the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Instead, because the year-old NHL labor agreement requires teams to designate four days off each month, the Sharks stayed away from hockey entirely beyond whatever conversations players chose to have among themselves.

But if the players were idle, the front office decided it could still make a couple moves, calling forwards Matt Nieto and Freddie Hamilton up from Worcester and sending Matt Pelech the other direction.

Nieto had a five-point night -- two goals, three assists -- Friday night in Worcester's 8-2 win over the Portland Pirates in the AHL. Hamilton chipped in with a goal and two assists.

Both Nieto and Hamilton had prior stints in San Jose this season with the former getting two goals and four assists in 19 games, the latter going scoreless in four games.

After Friday night's 5-3 loss to Carolina, coach Todd McLellan questioned his team's energy level. He was pointed in his criticism, saying he didn't know whether the problem was laziness or fatigue.


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"We need to regroup, to get some rest," he said, knowing he had no alternative. "I hope that's the case, that rest is the issue. But we can be better."

The Sharks still might be among the NHL's elite, but McLellan was clearly bothered by what he has been seeing on this 1-2 trip. Even after a 4-2 victory in Toronto, the coach was critical of how his team played over an extended period.

"We don't seem to have the jump and when we don't have the jump, we're not using our heads very well," he said Friday after his team squandered a 2-0 lead to the Hurricanes.

Not that his players weren't already aware of what has been going wrong.

"We've got to tighten up a lot defensively," Logan Couture said Friday night. "I think a lot of players are trying to cheat for offensive chances, and it cost us."

  • Any game between the Sharks and Wild provides an excuse to look back to the two 2011 trades between the teams that helped reshape each franchise.

    The first brought Brent Burns to San Jose, where the former defenseman has thrived since being converted to forward and has been key to implementing the up-tempo game the Sharks play. Burns has continued to average almost a point per game when healthy and has 15 in 16 contests this season.

    Minnesota identified then-prospect Charlie Coyle as its most prized player in the deal, and Coyle has worked his way onto the Wild's second line where he has eight points in 18 games. Devin Setoguchi, another piece in the deal, has since been traded to the Winnipeg Jets. The Wild also used San Jose's first-round pick in the 2011 draft to select Zack Phillips, who has not yet reached the NHL.

    In the second trade, the Wild received Dany Heatley, who has six goals and 10 points in 30 games this season, for Marty Havlat, who has two goals and five points in 16 games since returning from offseason surgery.

  • The Wild is a more than respectable 17-9-5 and in the mix for a Western Conference playoff spot. Minnesota is 4-5-1 over its past 10 games, and that does not bode well for the Sharks as the Wild lost 2-0 in Columbus on Friday night.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him at twitter.com/@PollakOnSharks.

    SUNDAY'S GAME

    Sharks (19-5-5) at Minnesota (17-9-5), 3 p.m. CSNCA