Tim Thomas made 36 saves for the Panthers.
The Sharks, who defeated Washington 2-1 on Tuesday, won consecutive road games for the first time since taking three straight Nov. 12-15. They beat the Panthers for the first time in five games, dating to the 2008-09 season.
Leading 1-0, the Sharks scored two goals in the third period.
Nieto's goal gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Tyler Kennedy took a shot from the right side of the crease. Thomas stretched to block it, but Nieto swept in the rebound at 4:44.
The Sharks stretched their lead to 3-0 when Pavelski poked a rebound into the net at 11:46 of the third. Pavelski leads the Sharks with 22 goals and has 13 points in his past 13 games.
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead in the second on Thornton's breakaway goal. Thornton got a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in on Thomas and put the puck over Thomas's glove with 51 seconds left in the period. Thornton has 15 points in his past 13 games.
Thomas stopped 21 shots in the first period, the most in a period against the Panthers since they allowed 21 against Ottawa on Dec. 3, also in the first period.
The Sharks have been the best first-period team in the league with 52 goals, but Thomas was able to keep them out of the net.
The Sharks had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:29 in the first, but the Panthers were able to kill off the penalty. The Panthers haven't allowed a power-play goal in seven games.
The Panthers are 0-for-25 on the power play over the past eight games.
NOTES: Thornton leads the Sharks with 51 points. ... The Panthers haven't played the Sharks since a 5-3 win on Dec. 3, 2011.
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