SAN JOSE -- If the Sharks jump ahead of the Minnesota Wild by two goals Thursday night at the SAP Center, there could be a collective uh-oh mixed in with the cheering.

San Jose is on a four-game losing streak, and in two of those games the Sharks were up 2-0 -- far from a comfortable lead but one that good teams don't cough up frequently. Yet that's what San Jose did in a 5-3 loss in Carolina on Friday and in a 3-2 shootout loss at home Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

"Disappointing to say the least," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday.

The next time the Sharks build a two-goal lead, McLellan said he will throw them a simple math question.

"Let's assume we're up 2-0 -- is three or one the most important number? Because three is huge, and so is one," said McLellan, adding he wants his team to stay aggressive in getting that third goal.

"But there's a difference between being aggressive and stupid," the coach continued. "And when you cross the line and go from aggressive to stupid, one is a lot closer to you than three."

McLellan said different factors contributed to the Sharks' demise against Carolina and the Islanders. On the road, it was fatigue; at home, frustration at not being able to get more than two of their 45 shots in regulation past Islanders netminder Kevin Poulin.

The players share McLellan's disappointment.

"I think we're smart enough in this room to realize that if we want to reach our goal, we can't be giving up leads like that," Logan Couture said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing."

The Sharks have 19 wins this season but have held the lead in seven of the 12 games in which they failed to get two points. They also failed to protect a two-goal lead Nov. 10 in Winnipeg.

  • Joe Pavelski has played the last two games on a line with Couture and Patrick Marleau. But McLellan made it clear he still prefers to use Pavelski as a third-line center for scoring depth.

    "I like us three deep through the middle, but at different times of the year for different reasons, we rotate different people around," McLellan said. At this point, there was an opportunity to see if Freddie Hamilton was ready to center the third line as well as spark the team during a losing stretch.

    Pavelski scored San Jose's only even-strength goal against the Islanders, and the line combined for 18 shots on net.

  • Sharks general manager Doug Wilson returned from this week's board of governors meetings in Pebble Beach with a better idea of the financial parameters as he negotiates deals to keep Joe Thornton, Marleau and Dan Boyle on the roster after this season.

    The NHL told teams it expects the salary cap for 2014-15 to be about $71 million -- roughly 10 percent higher than the $64.3 million it is this season.

    "Nothing's etched in stone. It gives you an idea what things are going to be and where they're going," Wilson said. "You try to make your decisions with as much information as possible."

    Wilson does not discuss progress on contract talks, but conversations with player representatives began last summer.

    John Thornton, the Sharks captain's brother and agent, said in October he did not see his brother taking a pay cut. That is consistent with an ESPN report this week that Thornton is seeking a three-year deal that would pay him approximately $7 million annually.

  • Defenseman Scott Hannan will miss a second game Thursday night because of an upper body injury.

    THURSDAY'S GAME
    Minnesota (18-9-5) at Sharks (19-6-6), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA