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Sharks leap-frog Stars with win
Joe Pavelski's two goals paces SJ in 3-0 shutout
3/31/12 - By Mike Lee -

Joe Thornton may just have been right. San Jose's captain said that the Sharks would need to win all four of their remaining games in order to make the playoffs. With the competition in the Pacific Division so tight, Thornton's comments are something the rest of the Sharks will need to take seriously. They got off to a good start by putting together a 60-minute performance on Saturday night to knock off the Dallas Stars 3-0 at HP Pavilion.

Thornton did his part by assisting on a pair of Joe Pavelski goals and making a number of big defensive plays to help San Jose take the front end of their home-and-home series with the Stars. Both teams will meet again on Tuesday in Dallas, with the Sharks holding a slim one-point lead over the 9th place Stars. The Colorado Avalanche loom another point behind the Stars, but well within striking distance of the Sharks.

The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes both recorded points on Saturday and hold a single-point lead on the Sharks. San Jose and Los Angeles will close out the season with their own home-and-home series, but the Coyotes face three non-division opponents. San Jose's win on Saturday night gives them a leg up on Dallas, holding a 4-0-1 record against the Stars this season.

"I don't know exactly the mathematical equation or what needs to be done," said Stars captain Brendan Morrow. "But it's probably three wins or nothing for us. It's nice to be able to get them again while the blood's hot a little bit, get a little redemption. But, if we do the same thing we did tonight, we're not going to have the success that we want."

Pavelski was the man of the hour on the offensive side of the puck. The Sharks forward bagged his 30th and 31st goal of the season to provide the Sharks with more offense than they would need. His first goal opened the game's scoring just 58 seconds into the contest. Pavelski ripped a one-timer past Kari Lehtonen from the slot after Thornton set him up with a pass from the right wing boards.

Dallas should have tied the game later in the period when Michael Ryder fired a puck on a wide open net from the bottom of the left circle, but Sharks defenseman Justin Braun got a stick blade in front of Ryder's shot to deflect it safely out of harms way.

Steve Ott did the Sharks a big favor by taking an interference penalty with 3:10 left in the period. San Jose converted on the ensuing power play when defenseman Jason Demers deposited his 3rd goal of the season past Lehtonen. The play was highlighted by the pass that Martin Havlat made to setup the goal. Havlat sent a saucer pass from the right corner that eluded the sticks of two Star defenders, hitting Demers on the tape on the far side of the rink for the one-time chance.

Pavelski converted his second goal of the evening midway through the 2nd period, deflecting a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot after positioning himself in front of Lehtonen. Stephan Robidas was late to cover Pavelski, who became the Sharks goal scoring leader this season with the tally.

While all of this was going on, Antti Niemi quietly went about his business, earning his 6th shutout of the season. The Sharks goaltender only faced 22 shots all night, but he stopped everything and didn't get himself into trouble with hairy rebounds.

"We had to put more pucks on their net and create more of some residual chances there," said Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan. "They had a lot of jump and they did it to us, and they got that one early and it kind of set us back. The early jump was kind of the difference."

The only knock on the Sharks game came with 10 minutes remaining in regulation when the Stars handed them 72 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time, but San Jose couldn't capitalize. They couldn't even setup in the Stars zone, fumbling the puck against three Dallas defenders.

The only good thing that came out of the 5-on-3, was that it motivated Ott to pop off to the on-ice officials, which earned him a 10-minute misconduct and an earl trip to the showers.

"We still control our own destiny," said Gulutzan. "We don't need someone to beat somebody else. We just need to win our last three games. Period."

McLellan could have essentially said the same thing.


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1 2 3 T
DAL 0 0 0 0
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 30 (Thornton), Marleau), 0:58. 2, SJ, Demers 3 (Havlat, Clowe), 18:38, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Pavelski 31 (Vlasic, Thornton), 9:39.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Garbutt, DAL (cross checking), 4:35; Galiardi, SJ (hooking), 7:29; Sourey, DAL (high sticking), 10:12; Ott, DAL (interference), 16:50.
2nd period - Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 6:11; Fiddler, DAL (boarding), 8:56; Couture, SJ (goaltender interference), 9:05; Dowell, DAL (fighting major), 12:42; Desjardins, SJ (fighting major), 12:42.
3rd period - Garbutt, DAL (roughing), 9:07; Garbutt, DAL (fighting major), 9:07; Mitchell, SJ (fighting major), 9:07; Burish, DAL (slashing), 9:55; Ott, DAL (10 min misconduct), 9:55.
Shots Saves
DAL - Lehtonen 34 31
SJ - Niemi 22 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DAL 6 8 8 22
SJ 12 15 7 34
Power Play Conversion
DAL 0 of 3
SJ 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Joe Pavelski
Justin Braun
Referees: Peel, St Pierre. Linesmen: Gibbs, Heyer.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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