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This is the result the Wild need to even have a chance at catching up to a playoff spot.

By securing two more points, they avoided losing any ground to St. Louis and Vegas in the Western Conference race.

Actually, the Wild moved one point closer to the last wild-card berth because the Golden Knights leapfrogged the Kings and Los Angeles is eight ahead of the Wild while Vegas is nine.

But how the Wild achieved a 3-1 victory over the Sharks on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center isn't conducive to earning similar outcomes the rest of the way.

"For us to keep winning games we have to play better, for sure," Joel Eriksson Ek said.

The Wild shrugged off last-place San Jose because Matt Boldy scored 18 seconds into the third period and Filip Gustavsson stopped the next 17 shots from the Sharks before Ryan Hartman alleviated the pressure by draining an empty-netter with 54 seconds left.

"We were under siege, particularly in the third period," coach John Hynes said, "and we'll be better from this."

They have no choice if they want the 10 games left on the schedule to matter.

This lull, against a team that's dropped nine in a row and has just two victories in its last 20 games, came after a four-day break for the Wild in which their health improved.

Eriksson Ek and Jonas Brodin returned from their respective lower-body injuries, but Marcus Foligno exited the lineup because of a nagging groin injury.

BOXSCORE: Wild 3, San Jose 2

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Still, the Wild didn't look rusty in the first period.

They outshot San Jose 15-1 but had just a 1-0 lead to show for it; the Wild did have another puck enter the Sharks net, but it didn't count because the play was deemed dead. San Jose also put the Wild on the power play twice, and the Wild blanked on both looks. The Sharks went 0-for-1.

"It's still frustrating that they're still in the game," Gustavsson said.

Eriksson Ek finished off a give-and-go with Kirill Kaprizov that Boldy also factored in at 16:01 to hit the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career.

"I play with good players," Eriksson Ek said. "That helps, for sure. All I want to do is win games. To win as a team, I think that's when you have the most fun."

Kaprizov also assisted on Boldy's goal, and he's up to 81 points to become the first player in Wild history to record multiple 80-point seasons; he had a franchise-record 108 points in 2021-22.

But not manufacturing more offense stung the Wild in the second when the Sharks upped the pressure.

"They've got less to play for than us, but that doesn't really change much," Boldy said. "They're still a good team. They pushed. We didn't play great, and sometimes that's how it goes."

They capitalized at 9:26 when former Wild forward Mikael Granlund capped off a 3-on-1 rush by batting in a puck that deflected off Wild defenseman Declan Chisholm's stick.

The Wild did enough to outlast San Jose in the third period, but the Sharks tested the Wild with those 17 shots. Overall, they finished with 27 (26 saves for Gustavsson) after their slow start. Mackenzie Blackwood made 29 stops for San Jose.

"I think we did a really good first period and bad second period and pretty bad third, I think, too," Brodin said. "But we got a win, so that's most important. But, yeah, those games are pretty tough. They're just out there relaxed, making plays, and we have really big games coming up here."

Maybe none bigger than Saturday vs. Vegas, but only if the Wild improve.

"There's certainly some things that we'll address [Friday] with our guys to make sure that we clearly understand there's a certain way we need to play and there's a certain standard we need to play with," Hynes said, "and we got to be much better than we were tonight."