GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Pavelski scored twice in the first 10 minutes and Antti Niemi made 30 saves to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night.
With 41 goals, Pavelski became the fourth 40-goal season in San Jose history. Only Jonathan Cheechoo (56 in 2005-06), linemate Patrick Marleau (44 in 2009-10) and Owen Nolan (1999-2000) had accomplished the feat.
Pavelski will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a head of steam: Seven goals and 12 points in the final nine games. San Jose will face the Los Angeles Kings in a Western Conference First Round matchup.
"It was nice to get it right away in the game," Pavelski said of his 40th goal. "You can feel everyone trying to help you get there. The team is a huge part of anyone getting that many goals and I wanted it for them too. It was a fun game and we go into the playoffs with back-to-back wins, which is nice.
The Sharks-Kings series will be a rematch of a 2013 Western Conference Semifinal that the Kings won in seven games.
"It's going to be great," Pavelski said. "It went down to the final minutes last year and they're a good team. It's a good test for us and we're going to need everyone on this team to beat them."
Pavelski scored four goals and had eight of his 79 points in four games against the Coyotes this season.
"It's nice to get that goal for Joe and get some confidence going for our line," San Jose captain and Pavelski's linemate Joe Thornton said. "It's a huge accomplishment. There's not too many guys who get 40 and it's well-deserved. He works extremely hard every day.
"For the last couple of games, even though I'm a passer anyway, I was trying to pass it to him a lot more. I'm really happy for him."
Logan Couture's 23rd goal, coming 13 seconds into the third period, which proved to be the winning goal and the Sharks finished the regular season 51-22-9.
Mike Ribeiro and Shane Doan scored for the Coyotes, who are 0-4-3 in the past seven games and will miss the postseason for a second straight year after reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012. The Coyotes have scored nine goals in the seven games, scoring more than two goals once in that span. They finished out their season Sunday against the Dallas Stars.
"It's a frustrating time. You're in this business to win," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "When you're close and you're not winning, it's probably even more frustrating. That's the worst thing about these games coming down the stretch. We've given points away that would have certainly helped the cause."
Phoenix goalie Mark Visentin allowed two goals to Pavelski in the first five shots he faced in his NHL debut. He settled down to make 29 saves, but Couture's goal proved to be the difference.
"I definitely felt the jitters out there, but I thought the team did a great job coming back in the second, definitely helped me feel more comfortable out there," said Visentin, who was Phoenix's second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. "I was having fun at times, but it stinks losing."
Visentin got off to a rough start in his debut, particularly against San Jose's top line of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Marleau, who continued to pile up the points.
The Sharks didn't get another shot for the next 6:13, while Ribeiro hit the post on a 2-on-1 rush and Doan tipped an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot wide. But when the Sharks got another chance, Pavelski made it count.
With Visentin off the near post, Pavelski took a Matt Irwin pass in the left circle and put a one-timer in from the short side at 10:04. Thornton earned his 65th assist, leaving him two short Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby for the League lead.
Outshot 8-5 in the first period, the Coyotes turned up their intensity in the second and, after several close calls, got on the board thanks to the rarely-used line of Martin Erat, Ribeiro and Radim Vrbata.
Vrbata held the puck, waited for Ribeiro to find some open ice and feathered a pass across the slot. While fading backward, Riberio put a shot off the glove of Niemi at 10:22 to cut the deficit in half. Ribeiro's goal was his first in 13 games and his second since Feb. 1, a span of 24 games.
The Sharks and Coyotes traded goals in the first 44 seconds of the third period. Dan Boyle held in a Kyle Chipchura try at the blue line and sent a puck to the net, where Couture made a pretty, between-the-leg deflection at 13 seconds.
Phoenix answered on the same shift. Chipchura won a puck battle in the corner and fed Doan for a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Niemi to the near post 21 seconds after Couture's goal. It was Doan's 22nd goal and 46th point of the season.
"Nobody ever wants to be in this situation and it's unfortunate we got another (loss)," Doan said. "We've got to find a way to end this stupid streak we're on."
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