Pavelski: 'Nemo shut the door for us tonight'
Joe Pavelski's 21st career two-goal game helped the Sharks to a 3-1 win over the Wild Thursday in San Jose. (USATSI)
SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ power play is scuffling no more.
San Jose scored three times with a man advantage, including a pair by Joe Pavelski, in beating the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at SAP Center, 3-1. Overall, the Sharks were 3-for-7 with a man advantage.
The Sharks ended a four-game losing streak (1-3-1), and improved to 11-1-3 at home.
The Sharks took a 3-0 lead into the dressing room after two periods, all coming while up a man.
First, Pavelski’s slap shot at 5:14 of the first period beat Niklas Backstrom to put San Jose on the board. Dan Boyle got the primary assist after settling a bouncing puck just inside the blue line and sliding it over to an open Pavelski.
The Sharks were awarded an extended advantage later in the period after consecutive minors to Justin Fontaine and Matt Cooke. Although a minute-and-a-half two-man advantage fell by the wayside, the Sharks converted after Tommy Wingels intercepted a clearing attempt along the wall. Wingels found Tomas Hertl open in the slot, and the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer rifled in his 15th of the season at 14:43.
San Jose went on a four-minute power play when Zenon Konopka was called for high-sticking Jason Demers, even though replays appeared to show it was teammate Freddie Hamilton who hit Demers up high.
Pavelski’s second of the night, on the rebound of a Matt Irwin shot, increased San Jose’s cushion to three at 3:42. Marty Havlat provided a screen on Irwin’s shot before Pavelski converted into an open net.
Jonas Brodin’s shot off of Brad Stuart with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the third spoiled the shutout bit by Antti Niemi, who finished with 28 saves.
San Jose is now outscoring the opposition 42-14 in the first period, and has had a 2-0 lead in 16 of 32 games.
Minnesota is just 5-8-3 on the road, the worst mark in the Western Conference. The Sharks and Wild meet once more on Jan. 25 at SAP Center.
The Sharks scored three power play goals for the third time this season, and first since Oct. 19 against Calgary. Prior to a goal by Patrick Marleau against the Islanders on Tuesday, the Sharks had been three for their last 41 opportunities.
Hertl’s holding minor at 15:07 of the second period was his first penalty in the NHL. After coming out of the box, he canceled out an icing by outhustling Ryan Suter to a puck after a long shift by the Sharks’ penalty killers and Wild’s power play unit.
Niemi started for the 11th time in the last 12 games, and improved to 17-5-6.
Backstrom got the call ahead of Josh Harding, who made 37 saves in the Wild’s 3-1 over the Sharks on Sunday. Harding played and lost the previous night in Anaheim.
Pavelski now has 21 career two-goal games, but no hat tricks.
Couture left the ice with eight minutes to go in the third period after getting hit in the side of the head with a shot, and then seemed to hurt his right hand banging the ice in frustration. He later returned to finish the game.
Scott Hannan missed his third straight game with an upper body injury. At even strength, the Sharks reunited the Pavelski-Wingels-Matt Nieto line for the first time since Nov. 7. Havlat skated on the fourth line with Hamilton and Andrew Desjardins.
The Sharks begin a three-game road trip Saturday in Nashville. San Jose also visits St. Louis and Los Angeles next week.