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Pavelski scores two as Sharks cruise past Red Wings

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski hasn't given up hope of getting his first NHL hat trick, but he had no complaints Thursday night about his 22nd career two-game goal and a convincing 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at SAP Center.

"It'll happen, I bet," Pavelski said, flashing a broad smile. "Hopefully. We'll see. We'll keep trying. That was one of the better looks I've had at it, though."

Pavelski has played 524 games and scored 171 goals in his career. He nearly got his first hat trick with 23 seconds left to play when he had the puck and was wide open in the left circle, but his shot went wide left.

Andrew Desjardins and Dan Boyle also scored for the Sharks. Tomas Tatar had the lone goal for the Red Wings.

With his 20th and 21st goals, Pavelski moved one ahead of Patrick Marleau for the team lead. Pavelski has 12 goals in his past 15 games. With 37 games left to play, he's nine goals shy of tying his career-high of 31 set two seasons ago.

"He's been really good," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski, who's skating on the top line with center Joe Thornton and right wing Brent Burns. "We need to keep him that way. When the team really needs him, he elevates his game. That's the sign of a real good player. Again, playing with the two players that he does, he's just got to get himself in the right spot and find pucks, and he took advantage of it again."

What's been the key to his hot streak?

"Been around the net a little bit," Pavelski said. "Got some big goals and some goals you're kind of lucky with at times. Playing with some good players. We were getting some multiple looks throughout the night. Between (Burns) and me, we were getting a lot to the net, and (Thornton) was making all the passes. The power play was beginning to click a little so it all adds up."

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 24 saves and improved to 12-2-2 all-time against the Red Wings. Detroit's Jimmy Howard allowed four goals on 23 shots and was pulled after the second period for backup Petr Mrazek. Howard fell to 3-6-4 against the Sharks.

After Pavelski and Tatar scored in the first period, the Sharks scored three times in the second to blow the game open. Desjardins, Pavelski and Boyle scored in a span of 6:44, putting the Sharks in control against their former Western Conference rival.

"We stopped skating and started watching them on the power play," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "In the second half of the first period we started doing some good things but for whatever reason we stopped skating. We should keep going, keep skating. I've said it too many times already. It's time for us to start doing something."

The Sharks, who improved to 16-1-3 at home this season, are 11-2-1 against the Red Wings in their past 14 meetings.

Pavelski gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 4:59 of the first period with his 20th goal of the season. He took a pass in the slot from Joe Thornton and ripped a one-timer past Howard.

The Red Wings pulled even at 12:34 on Tatar's ninth of the season. Tatar controlled the puck behind the Sharks net and darted out to Niemi's right and past defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who had lost his stick, before he flipped a sharp-angled backhand high and to the far side.

"I saw the one guy without a stick and looked up to try and pass," Tatar said. "When no one came over to help I chose to take it. The puck was following me tonight. It's too bad I only scored one goal. I had plenty of other opportunities."

The Sharks regained the lead when Desjardins scored at 9:44 of the second period. He beat Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl to the puck along the left boards in the neutral zone, turned on the speed and ripped a bad-angled shot from the lower left circle that went under Howard's right arm and into the net. It was Desjardins' second goal of the season.

"I think we've been trying to concentrate on getting it past the d-men, getting it by them and getting on the forecheck," Desjardins said. "I was just fortunate to catch him flat footed and use the boards and got by him and shot the puck on the net and good things happened I guess."

Pavelski struck again at 12:25, knocking a rebound past Howard for his second goal to give San Jose a 3-1 lead. Howard stopped Brad Stuart's blast from the blue line, but he couldn't control the rebound, and Pavelski beat him with a sharp-angled shot from close range.

Boyle increased the Sharks' lead to 4-1 at 16:28 with a power-play goal. He took a pass in the right circle from Jason Demers and beat Howard to the far side.

"It was nice for once not to have somebody in front of me," Boyle said. "I beat him with a good shot."

The Sharks went 1-for-4 on the power play while Detroit went 0-for-4, extending its drought to 0-for-12 in the past three games.

The game turned chippy late in the third period with a handful of scrums and scuffles leading to a parade to the penalty box for both teams.

Forwards Tommy Wingels and Tyler Kennedy returned to the lineup for San Jose. Wingels missed five games with an upper-body injury while Kennedy missed four with the flu. Neither one got a point, but they got into a number of scraps and energized the Sharks, who were without six injured players: Matt Irwin (upper body), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery), Logan Couture (hand surgery), Marty Havlat (lower body), Adam Burish (back surgery) and Raffi Torres (knee surgery).

"It's huge," Thornton said of getting Wingels and Kennedy back in the lineup. "They both looked like they played well tonight. They looked fresh. TK he looked great and Tommy just throwing his weight around. It's nice to get guys back."

Detroit got defenseman Danny DeKeyser back from a groin injury but played without three key forwards -- Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Darren Helm (groin). Stephen Weiss (hernia), Jonathan Ericsson (broken ribs) and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) were also out of the lineup.

"The first period was fine," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We gave up two ugly goals [in the second]. For whatever reason, they went up 3-1 and that seemed to do it for us. We have to be mentally strong and keep skating no matter what. With this group we need good discipline and good goaltending and we didn't get it."

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