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Pavelski helps Sharks defeat Flyers, end home skid

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- In front of a sellout crowd at SAP Center on Wednesday, the San Jose Sharks gave their fans something they had not seen in more than a month: a win on home ice.

Joe Pavelski scored twice in the third period, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns each had a power-play goal, and the Sharks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2, ending a four-game home losing streak.

"It's great," Pavelski said. "It's what we expect. Obviously, now that's the template we need to copy and play with. We have to go from there. It's a good win tonight. We can't get ahead of ourselves. We need to come out with that energy again."

At 5-10-0, the Sharks have the fewest home wins in the NHL. They had not won at home since a 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames on Nov. 28.

Pavelski scored the go-ahead goal at 13:45 of the third period and later on the power play. He took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Justin Braun and beat goaltender Steve Mason with a shot from the left circle on a rush for a 3-2 lead. It was his NHL-leading seventh game-winning goal.

"Coming in on the entry, he just kind of held on to it, held on to it and it kind of developed late, and he made a good play," Pavelski said of Braun.

Pavelski scored his Sharks-leading 20th goal from close range, lifting a backhand over Mason with 48.4 seconds remaining.

San Jose (18-16-2) is 16-1-0 with two ties in its past 19 games against Philadelphia dating to the 2001-02 season.

Sharks center Logan Couture returned to the lineup after missing seven games while recovering from surgery on his right thigh to stop arterial bleeding. He assisted on power-play goals by Thornton and Burns but said he didn't feel great physically.

"Probably didn't look that good," Couture said. "On the power play, felt comfortable. Had the puck. It was lucky that we got some power plays. I was able to kind of establish that game where I was able to feel the puck and get some chances and build my confidence that way. I didn't really generate much 5-on-5. Hopefully, moving forward I can work on that."

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier scored for Philadelphia (15-14-7).

"I thought we played a pretty good game," Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas said. "Unfortunately, we got scored on at the end, but we can clean that up."

Couturier gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 4:19 of the third period. Wayne Simmonds stole the puck from Burns and got it to Couturier, who scored on a breakaway. He faked left, went right and beat Martin Jones with a backhand.

The Flyers lead didn't last long. Burns answered with a power-play goal from the slot at 5:54 with R.J. Umberger in the penalty box for slashing. The primary assist went to Couture, who sent a pass from below the goal line through traffic to Burns. The goal was Burns' 15th of the season.

"Great play by [Couture]," Burns said. "We talked about coming down and making low plays coming in, and it was a great pass by him."

With 7:08 left to play, Burns checked forward Chris VandeVelde to the ice near the boards in the Philadelphia zone. VandeVelde was helped off the ice and went to the dressing room.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he thought Burns should have been penalized.

"Yes, absolutely," Hakstol said. "In my opinion, he made contact with a hit to the head. There's no update yet. It's too early for that."

Burns said, "It's tough to see somebody get hurt, obviously. I thought it was totally clean."

Jones, who had a shutout in San Jose's 1-0 overtime victory against Philadelphia on Nov. 19, made 17 saves.

Mason made 29 saves in his fifth straight start. He was supposed to back up Michal Neuvirth, but Neuvirth became ill.

"I found out after I woke up from a nap," Mason said. "That happens. You try to get prepared as well as you can. The PK didn't do the job tonight. It cost us the game. For the most part this season, it's kind of struggled. The goalie is part of the PK, and I have to come up with some big saves on the PK. Overall, we have to do a lot better. It seemed like they had a lot of space to make plays."

Thornton scored a power-play goal at 9:53 of the second period, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead. He took a pass in the right circle from Patrick Marleau and lifted a shot over Mason's left shoulder, just inside the post. Thornton extended his point streak to seven games. It was his seventh goal, five of them on the power play. The assists went to Marleau and Couture.

"We've been playing good, we just haven't been winning at home," Thornton said. "It's nice to finally see all this hard work paying off at home."

The Flyers pulled even at 15:49 when Giroux scored right off a faceoff with Thornton in the right circle. Giroux's slap shot bounced off Jones' chest, through his legs and into the net. It was Giroux's Flyers-leading 12th of the season and ended his six-game goal drought.

"I've had Claude on a couple teams I've coached with Canada, and he's a special faceoff guy," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "Might be the best in the world at different things. It surprised me, the goal, but it didn't surprise me who did it."

Flyers defenseman Mark Streit (pubic plate surgery) returned to the lineup after missing 19 games. He was paired with Nick Schultz.

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