As it turned out, rust was not a problem.
Stalock stopped all 20 shots he faced for his second straight shutout, and Joe Pavelski scored the game's only goal at 6:48 of the third period, leading the Sharks to a 1-0 victory against the Winnipeg Jets.
"Obviously it feels good to get a shutout," said Stalock, who started in place of Antti Niemi. "I think in the last two games, maybe a total of 40 shots. You see that sometimes in one game, and it says a lot to spread that out among two games. You put it on a team effort, clearing away rebounds, and it makes it a lot simpler."
The Sharks won their fifth straight game and snapped the Jets' four-game winning streak, handing coach Paul Maurice his first loss since replacing Claude Noel on Jan 12.
Stalock extended his shutout streak to 140 minutes and 59 seconds. He posted his first career NHL shutout in his previous start, making 24 saves in a 3-0 road win against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 16. Before that he made 35 saves in a 3-2 shootout victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Jan. 5. He hasn't allowed a goal since Chicago's Michal Rozsival scored at 4:01 of the third period.
"It's awesome," Pavelski said of Stalock's play. "He's come in and played great for us. He's made some big saves along the way. It's really good for the team obviously. [Niemi] has been great. Al steps in on the odd nights and has been phenomenal."
Pavelski continued his torrid steak with his 28th goal of the season, moving him into sole possession of second place in the NHL, seven behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
It was Pavelski's sixth goal in three games and his 19th in his past 21 games. This time he batted a rebound out of the air past Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from close range after Justin Braun's soft backhand from the slot.
"It was one of those that's just kind of hovering and you're going to the net hoping for something like that and I just touched it," Pavelski said.
Winnipeg came into the game off a 3-2 victory Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks -- Anaheim's first regulation loss at home this season. The Sharks improved to 18-2-3 at home, but not before the Jets gave them a scare.
"I like a lot of what I saw defensively," Maurice said. "It's what we are trying to do. Our offense needs to improve. I like this group; they are still young and have potential. These guys are willing and they listen."
Pavelec made 31 saves and continued his own hot streak. He had won his four previous starts, posting a 1.74 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage during that stretch. He made 40 saves in the Jets' victory at Anaheim on Tuesday.
"It was a good road trip for us," Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "They got the bounce and we didn't. [Pavelec] certainly did a great job to keep us in it. We can take a lot of positives out of this game."
Early in the third period, Pavelec was shaken up stopping a wicked slap shot by Sharks forward Brent Burns that appeared to hit him in the shoulder. He caught the puck against his body but went to the ice in pain. He was examined by a trainer but remained in the game.
Stalock and Pavelec each made 11 saves in a scoreless first period, but the Jets had two power plays to none for San Jose and had more prime scoring chances. Stalock came up with his best save late in the first, denying Andrew Ladd on a 2-on-1 rush. As Ladd fired a shot from the left circle, Stalock did the splits in the crease and made the save with his right pad.
"They made a cross pass to him and he was streaking in," Stalock said. "He was going to have to lunge for it, so I just wanted to make it over there. I didn't think he was going to be able to get it up. We had a d-man on him under his stick, so he wasn't able to get much on it. It was a good play to eliminate a scoring chance on him."
One of the Sharks' best scoring chances in the first came shorthanded during Winnipeg's second power play when forward Andrew Desjardins went in on a breakaway. But Pavelec stopped Desjardins' wrist shot and his backhand on the rebound.
The Sharks appeared to break through for the game's first goal with 5:52 left in the second period when Pavelski ripped a power-play rebound past Pavelec. But the goal was immediately waved off for goaltender interference on Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who appeared to have been knocked on top of Pavelec by Jets defenseman Mark Stuart.
"It felt like my feet kind of like got kicked," Thornton said. "I don't know if it was the goalie. I just kind of went down. Too bad, but thank God it didn't affect the game."
The Jets went on their third power play of the game at 16:33 of the second after San Jose's Mike Brown sent Trouba hard into the boards with a hit from behind, earning two minutes for charging. But for the third straight time, the Sharks' penalty killers prevailed.
"It was a tight game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought both teams played that way. Not many chances at either end, and when there were, both goaltenders played well. We're lucky enough that [Pavelski] batted one out of the air. Get away with the win. Good to see our team play a tight game. I thought against Calgary we weren't anywhere near that. We were sloppy. Great to see Alex get another shutout. We're all excited for him. There's some good things tonight."
|Joe Pavelski Holding the stick against Evander Kane|
|Tommy Wingels Tripping against Keaton Ellerby|
|Olli Jokinen Holding against Joe Thornton|
|Mike Brown Charging against Jacob Trouba|
|Bryan Little Holding against Matt Nieto|
|Evander Kane Tripping against Dan Boyle|
|Andrew Ladd Charging against Marc-Edouard Vlasic|