SAN JOSE Joe Pavelski scored twice and the Sharks moved back into playoff position with a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars at HP Pavilion on Saturday night.
San Jose (40-29-10, 90 points) sits in eighth place in the Western Conference, one ahead of ninth place Dallas (42-32-5, 89 points). The teams meet again at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday.
The Sharks trail the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes by one point, after both clubs won earlier Saturday night. All four Pacific Division teams vying for the three final playoff spots have three games remaining.
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It didnt take long for the Sharks to jump on the road-weary Stars, who entered the game 1-10-2 in the second of back-to-back games and arrived in San Jose late after a 5-2 loss in Vancouver on Friday.
Joe Thornton set up Pavelski in the high slot, and Pavelskis one-timer cleanly beat Kari Lehtonen at the 58-second mark to make it 1-0. Pavelski reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career.
It didnt take long for him to get it to 31, when he deflected a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic midway through the second period to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. The goal moved Pavelski into the team lead, surpassing Logan Couture.
Pavelski has seven goals in his last nine games.
A power play goal put San Jose ahead by two at the first intermission. Marty Havlat made it happen, controlling the puck along the boards and patiently waiting for something to develop. He eventually found Jason Demers on the other side of the ice, sending a saucer pass to the defenseman for a redirection at 18:38.
That goal came with Stars agitator Steve Ott in the box for interfering with Justin Braun at 16:50, much to the approval of the sellout crowd.
The Sharks nearly scored earlier on that same power play, but Patrick Marleau rang one off of the crossbar with about 2:20 left in the period.
The Sharks much-maligned penalty-kill unit came up big with San Jose ahead 2-0. Torrey Mitchell was whistled for hooking at 6:11, but a nice play in the defensive zone by Dominic Moore led to a clear. Daniel Winnik chased after the puck and held it along the boards behind the Stars zone, and the crowd grew to a crescendo as the Sharks easily killed off the penalty.
San Jose had three power plays in the first period alone, after getting just one each in losses to Anaheim and Phoenix. The Sharks were shorthanded just once total in those two games, not taking a single penalty in the 3-1 loss to the Ducks on Wednesday.
The nastiness thats typically prevalent during Sharks-Stars games was also in full effect, despite the Stars looking downright sloppy and tired for long stretches. Andrew Desjardins and Jake Dowell fought at 12:42 of the second, while Mitchell and Ryan Garbutt dropped the gloves midway through the third.
Ott was handed a 10-minute misconduct at 9:55 of the third period for arguing with the officials over a slashing penalty to Adam Burish that gave the Sharks more than a minute of five-on-three time they were unable to cash in on.
The Sharks finished 1-for-6 on the power play and killed off all three Stars advantages.
Antti Niemi finished with 22 saves to record his sixth shutout.
Odds and ends: Joe Pavelski became the ninth Sharks player all-time to reach 30 goals in a season. Of Pavelskis 31 goals this season, 13 are in the first period, including five in the first two minutes. Jason Demers marker was the first on the power play by a Sharks defenseman in 18 games, since Brent Burns scored at Minnesota on Feb. 26. Joe Thornton is now tied for third in the NHL in assists with 58.