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Pavelski seeing positive signs in Sharks play

by Dan Rosen

Five wins in six games, even if the one loss was against the last-place Edmonton Oilers, might be a sign that the San Jose Sharks are starting to turn the corner this season after a rocky start.

"It's definitely coming," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said about consistency during a phone interview Wednesday night.

The Sharks, who play Thursday at home against the Minnesota Wild, have beaten the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Oilers in regulation since Nov. 29. They were 6-10-3 in their previous 19 games.

San Jose (15-11-4) has 34 points through 30 games, good for fourth in the Pacific Division.

"I think with the fact that we're winning a lot of these games in regulation speaks to that [consistency] too," Pavelski said. "We're not giving up a big number of goals. We're scoring a few. Guys are able to finish games off. We've had scoring from all the lines, and you need that, especially in this League right now."

Nobody is ready to suggest the Sharks are out of the woods or can even keep doing what they're doing now. Remember, they went 4-0-1 in their first five games before earning 15 out of a possible 38 points from Oct. 19 through Nov. 26.

There's no way to know if the Sharks' current run of consistency will end as abruptly as their last one did, with a four-game losing streak when they were outscored 16-8.

"We still are going through a lot of extra things that we fight through," Pavelski said. "We have a lot of talent, and it's just about re-establishing it and re-establishing it on a nightly basis. If you go away from what made you good, it definitely can come back to get you."

Pavelski admitted there was a lot of self-evaluation going on around the Sharks from late October to late November. He said there were a lot of questions being asked, questions that didn't have easy answers.

"How can you get better? Where is the energy? Why aren't we winning?" Pavelski said. "We just won four games early in the season against some good teams and then we go through a lull. You understand there are going to be ups and downs, you've gotta work through it, stay together, do all those things, but there's definitely questions. I'm sure there will be more questions throughout the season. It can be good for us. It can be healthy for us as well to be put in those situations early in the year."

Pavelski then remembered back to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, when the Sharks opened with seven consecutive wins before hitting a lull similar to the one this season. They went 6-10-5 in their next 21 games before closing with a 13-6-1 record in their final 20.

"We were right at the edge, a lot of good teams were playing, and we had to get this going," Pavelski said. "I remember the feeling. We started playing more in straight lines, a faster game. It definitely paid dividends."

He's hopeful that's what is happening now, and that there's a good chance the schedule will allow it to continue for a while. The Sharks play their next nine games in California, including six at home. Their next game out of state isn't until Jan. 5.

"You'd like it to just go from start to finish and be on top, that's what you work for, but there are definitely times when it's not going to happen," Pavelski said. "We came off with a good start and then hit a hole. The schedule, the travel, the back-to-back games, starting at an earlier time than the night before -- none of that we use as excuses, but you've gotta understand that it's not easy at times and you've gotta find ways to win games during those stretches. We didn't do a good enough job with that.

"Now guys are consistently forechecking more, consistently winning more faceoffs. A lot of the tendencies we used to have in our game, we're starting to get them back."


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