Odd praise for Pavelski after win

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Odd praise for Pavelski after win

SAN JOSE The praise was plentiful if not a bit unconventional for Sharks winger Joe Pavelski after the winger scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season in San Joses important 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Hes just a dirty player. He gets in dirty areas and wills himself in front of the net, said Joe Thornton, who assisted on both of Pavelskis goals. A lot of guys dont want to necessarily go there, but hes made a living going to the front of the net like tonight with that tip from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Hes just a dirty player.

Todd McLellan said: Hes a little bit like Gumby. He slithers into spots, and his sense of timing is really good. We talk about going to the net, but arriving at the net at the right time is probably a little more important than always going to the net. Pav has that knack and great hockey sense.

Pavelski became just the ninth player in Sharks franchise history to record at least 30 goals in a season, and the first American, for what thats worth.
RELATED: NHL Standings

His first period goal ended up being the game-winner, thanks to Antti Niemis sixth shutout of the season (and 19th of his career). Pavelski is making a habit of getting on the board early, too. He has five goals in the first two minutes of a game, the most of any NHL player this season according to Elias.

Its important to score early, regardless. Get the lead, Pavelski said. The last few games weve had so many good looks not just decent scoring chances, but it feels like open nets.

They were able to get one to drop this time, something that didnt happen in disheartening losses in Anaheim and Phoenix, putting the tired Stars behind the eight ball early.

Weve been stressing our starts, Thornton said. I dont know if theres a secret or not, but we have to be prepared to start every night, and we have been.

Pavelski, incidentally, has 18 career two-goal games but no NHL hat tricks. Thats the fourth-longest active streak of its kind. Pavel Datsyuk, believe it or not, has the most (26).

Niemi feeling good: Hes made 18 starts in a row, and it will almost certainly be 21 by the time the regular season comes to a close next Saturday, but Antti Niemi is feeling just fine, thank you very much.

I feel great. I think its all about balancing the practice time and playing time, he said after Saturday nights game. We play on Tuesday next, so thats good, too.

The Sharks will resume practice at 10:00 a.m. on Monday after a complete day off on Sunday. Their 17 games in March was tied for the most in the league last month with three other teams.

Stars unhappy with effort: It wasnt exactly surprising that the Dallas Stars didn't have their A-game last night, regardless of how tight the playoff race is. The Stars arrived in San Jose in the early morning hours on Saturday after a flight from Vancouver where they lost 5-2 the night before.

That wasnt a valid excuse, according captain Brenden Morrow, who saw his club fall to an abysmal 1-11-2 in the second half of back-to-backs.

It was a big game, and I dont think fatigue can be an excuse when you have whats on the line what we had tonight, Morrow said.

Morrow hopes the animosity these two teams clearly have for one another can benefit his club at home on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Its nice to be able to get them again while the bloods hot a little bit, get a little redemption, Morrow said. But, if we do the same thing we did tonight, were not going to have the success that we want.

Head coach Glen Gulutzan said: Weve got to move on. Weve got a big game against this team on Tuesday. Our fates in our own hands still. At this junction of the season, thats what you have to focus on.

Checking the race: The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes both got points in the standings last night; LA in a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota and Phoenix with a 4-0 win over Anaheim.

The Sharks improved their playoff chances by 16.6 percent according to the math, and now have a 62.4 percent probability to make the postseason, according to sportsclubstats.com.

None of the teams in the playoff race is in action on Sunday. On Monday, Edmonton visits the Kings.

NHL Gameday: Sharks host Bruins in final game before week of rest

NHL Gameday: Sharks host Bruins in final game before week of rest

Programming note – Sharks-Bruins coverage starts today at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 35-18-6, 76 points, 1st Pacific Division
Bruins: 29-23-6, 64 points, 4th Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks will be playing their second of a back-to-back, and final game before the bye week, in a rare matinee start time at SAP Center against Boston. Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona was just San Jose’s second in its last seven games, although they have points in six of those (2-1-4). San Jose is 4-2-4 since reeling off six straight wins from Jan. 16 – 24, and has a four-point lead on Edmonton for first place in the Pacific Division.

***Boston will be playing for the first time since its bye week, which may not have come at a good time. The Bruins reeled off three straight wins after changing coaches from Claude Julien to interim Bruce Cassidy, the first of which came against the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9. The Bruins haven’t played since last Sunday, a 4-0 home win over Montreal.

***Joe Thornton brings a five-game point streak into tonight’s game (2g, 4a). He sits two assists shy of becoming the 13th player in NHL history to reach 1000 assists.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Melker Karlsson. The fourth line winger was the star of last night’s game in Arizona, posting one goal and two assists, and getting credit for the game-winning goal. Karlsson, second on the Sharks in shorthanded time on ice per game, has two goals and three points in three career games against the Bruins.

Bruins: Patrice Bergeron. The three-time Selke Trophy winner posted four points (1g, 3a) against the Sharks in Boston 10 days ago, and is third on the team in scoring with 33 points (14g, 19a). The 31-year-old is just one assist shy of 400 for his career, and is eighth on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Nikolay Goldobin – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Bruins
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pasternak
Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

INJURIES

Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.

Bruins: Austin Czarnik (lower body) is out.

QUOTEABLE

“He’s having an MVP season. He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.” – Pete DeBoer on Brent Burns after Saturday’s Sharks win in Arizona, in which Burns had two goals

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

For the first time in five tries this season the Sharks managed to secure a regulation win over the last place Coyotes, 4-1 at Gila River Arena on Saturday. They keep their four-point lead over Edmonton, and are assured of going into the bye week in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.

Here are our three takeaways from the win…

1 – Burns turns the tide…again

For the second time in a week, Brent Burns changed the momentum of a game with his deadly wrist shot. The Sharks were on their heels early – Arizona had a 16-9 shot advantage in the first period, perhaps jolted be a pregame ceremony – but Burns’ shot through traffic staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead and they were on their way.

“We kind of weathered their storm early,” Joe Pavelski told reporters. “There was a lot of energy in the building.”

It was similar to a game in New Jersey last Sunday, when Burns had a pair of second period goals, erasing a 1-0 deficit and putting his team on the track to victory.

According to Elias, Burns – who added a third period power play goal, too – is the first defenseman to score 18 goals on the road since Paul Coffey’s 22 in 1983-84. His 26 goals equal his total from last season, tying his franchise record.

“He’s having an MVP season,” Pete DeBoer told reporters. “He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”

Burns remains in third in the league in scoring with 63 points, four points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

2 – Dell gets the job done…again

Getting his second start in a week, Aaron Dell made a new season high (and, thus, career high) with 36 saves. His best stop was early in the second period on Radim Vrbata, when he managed to snag a pin-balling puck from crossing the line, keeping the Sharks ahead 2-0. Had that one trickled over, the Coyotes might have been able to seize the momentum.

“I think I had it the whole time,” Dell told reporters. “I kind of saw it for a second and then when I turned back I was able to find it and scoop it underneath me.”

DeBoer said: “He’s been good every time we’ve put him in there.”

Dell, whose goals-against average is down to 1.95, outplayed Sharks nemesis Mike Smith, who had stopped 121 of 127 San Jose shots in three games this season.

“We got to Smitty in the first period, which was great,” Pavelski said. “We kind of know what he’s done to us the past few games, stopping a lot of pucks. … That was a big key for us.”

3 – Fourth line magic

Through two periods, the Sharks’ top two lines had generated a total of three shots on goal – one each from Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Patrick Marleau.

Fortunately for the big guys, the fourth line was there to pick up the slack. Melker Karlsson posted three points (1g, 2a), Micheal Haley had one goal and one assist, and the fourth line generated all three of San Jose’s goals through 40 minutes.

One goal from the fourth line is a bonus. Three is virtually unheard of. 

“They showed up and played the right way,” DeBoer said. “Right from the drop of the puck they put pucks behind the other teams defense, they had good support, they created a lot of chances, and got rewarded for it. I think Dell and them were the difference in the game early through the first half, until we got going a little bit.”