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The lack of production was admittedly starting to bother Joe Pavelski, who entered Tuesday’s game in Edmonton with no goals and just two assists over his last seven games.
Getting through fatigue from going to the Olympics in Russia has been a factor.
“Honestly, I can’t help but sometimes get that. There’s no excuse though, you’ve got to find a way to be fresh, and you work to recover after every game and try to do as much as you can," Pavelski said. "There’s nights you don’t have it, you’ve just got to find it, whether it’s shorter shifts, or however you can get into the game. … Starting to recover a little bit more and get back into the pace.”
That the Sharks lost their last two games in shootouts only served to exacerbate Pavelski’s annoyance with his sudden drought.
“It felt like 15 [games]. … You want to contribute, especially when we’re losing by a goal or could get that extra point, you always think you could do more,” Pavelski said.
“It’s good to contribute tonight and get the two points, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. It was an important win for us.”
It was. The Sharks left one point on the board in each of their last two games, tie-breaking losses to Washington and Calgary. Although they outplayed the Capitals on Saturday at home, this is the time of year where the results are all that matter.
After three straight losses in Alberta against the two worst Western Conference teams, including defeats on Jan. 29-30 in Edmonton and Calgary, San Jose needed to take care of business against the appalling Oilers.
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And, as he’s been doing all season, it was Pavelski who delivered at an imperative moment, scoring goals 35, 36 and 37 to move into a tie with Corey Perry for second in the NHL in goals.
“What can you say? He’s been our go-to guy as far as finishing goes,” Todd McLellan said.
The head coach removed Pavelski from the Joe Thornton line midway through Monday’s 2-1 shootout loss in Calgary. That’s where Pavelski started Tuesday’s match, but it didn’t last long. The 29-year-old forward got in front of the net to whack in a Patrick Marleau rebound on the power play, and then went right back to Thornton’s left wing.
“I needed one of those to get going again,” Pavelski said of his first goal, tying the game at 1-1.
Pavelski’s second goal, early in the third period, gave the Sharks a sizeable 4-1 cushion. Again, he got to the front of the net, and was inexplicably left all alone by Edmonton defenders. The forward could have made himself a turkey sandwich and still had time to turn around and flip the puck over Ben Scrivens’ shoulder.
“We knew they kind of leave you alone at the net a little bit,” Pavelski said of the play.
The third goal was his only even strength marker of the night, when he ripped a slap shot from the slot on a pass from Thornton, to complete his third career hat trick. All of them have come this season.
McLellan said: “Very smart player that gets to the right spots, and has smart people around him that get him the puck.”
The Sharks will scoreboard watch on Wednesday night, as Anaheim visits Calgary to play one of the three games in has on San Jose. The four-point cushion the Sharks have is still very tenuous, of course.
Pavelski and the rest of the Sharks will get some much needed rest on Wednesday, and are right back at it on Thursday at home vs. Winnipeg.
“For the amount of hockey we’ve played and the traveling that we’ve done, it was good to see guys dig in and find a way to win," McLellan said.