SAN JOSE, Calif. --
With each passing playoff game, Joe Pavelski
continues to establish himself as a star in the National Hockey League.
The American-born center scored twice and added an assist as the San Jose Sharks
held on for a 4-3 victory against the Detroit Red Wings
in Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinal in front of 17,562 at HP Pavilion.
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"I think if you've watched us play, he's been pretty inspirational," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski, who scored 25 goals in each of the last two regular seasons. "He's scored some real big goals. Again tonight, he found a way to make an impact on the game. That's what playoffs are about. You have to raise your level a little bit. You have to find a way to leave your mark on the game every night."
San Jose, which had lost its previous four series openers, now has two full days to savor its 1-0 lead, as Game 2 will not be played until Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. It managed to win this one without the services of Patrick Marleau
, who was scratched after warmups due to the flu. Pavelski was one of several players who stepped up in Marleau's absence.
"He's done a great job all year," linemate Devin Setoguchi said. "He's always putting up numbers, and he's always done a great job. He stepped up. He played in the Olympics. You have to be pretty special to be an Olympian. He's been doing a great job for us."
With the loss, Detroit -- which played a Game 7 at Phoenix on Tuesday -- fell to 0-95 all-time in the playoffs when allowing the first three goals of a game. Those three tallies came during a 79-second span midway through the opening period.
"They scored three quick goals on us, and we were kind of back on our heels," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said. "We did battle back, but they played a solid game."
Pavelski continued his torrid scoring pace when he scored his sixth goal in San Jose's seven games 9:05 into the contest. Shortly after Valtteri Filppula
was penalized for slashing, Pavelski took a pass from Dan Boyle
and ripped a wrister from between the circles past Jimmy Howard
(23 saves) to give San Jose a 1-0 lead.
"We had good net-front presence," Pavelski said. "There was urgency on it. We won the battles and pucks got to the net. We were able to contribute. Special teams is big."
Dany Heatley doubled the margin less than a minute later. With the teams back at even strength, Heatley raced down the slot and one-timed a feed from behind the net by Joe Thornton
past Howard at 10:01 to make it 2-0. It was Heatley's first goal of the playoffs and first ever against the Red Wings.
Setoguchi made it 3-0 just 23 seconds later when he collected Pavelski's pass in the slot and quickly ripped it past Howard for his fourth goal of the postseason. San Jose's three goals in 1:19 were the fastest three in playoff history for the franchise.
"We just got that early jump," Setoguchi said. "A couple of quick, bang-bang goals. We were ready to go. It was a good game overall."
Dan Cleary got Detroit on the board when he scored his first goal of the playoffs at 11:40 of the first. Cleary, who had been demoted to the fourth line, one-timed a nice feed along the right wall by Jonathan Ericsson
past Evgeni Nabokov (20 saves) to make it 3-1. Cleary had not scored since April 7 against Columbus.
Detroit pulled within a goal early in the second as Johan Franzen
notched his second goal of the playoffs at 4:45, when he took a pass from Pavel Datsyuk
and fired a gorgeous wrister from between the circles past Nabokov.
But the Sharks cashed in on a two-man advantage 50 seconds into the third period, getting what proved to be the winner when Pavelski notched his second goal of the night. With Franzen and Filppula both in the penalty box, Pavelski took a pass from Heatley and whipped a shot from the lower left circle between Howard's legs to make it 4-2.
"I thought he played well ... he's a good player," Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Pavelski. "He's like all good players; you have to play as hard as you possibly can against him. You have to limit his touches and his chances around the net. I thought he had some real nice looks tonight. The puck came right to him."
made it a one-goal game again at 2:57 of the third. With the teams back at even strength, some nifty stickhandling by Franzen allowed him to get the puck to Datsyuk in the slot, where backhanded a pass to an onrushing Rafalski for a one-timer. It was Rafalski's first goal of the playoffs.
"It was a very evenly-matched game," McLellan said. "It could have went either way. We were lucky we got the last one across the goal line. It's great to have a 1-0 (series) lead, but that's all it is. There's six more games left. We're well aware of that."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Shift of the Game: In what was easily the biggest goal of the night, the trio of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley cycled the puck in the Red Wings' end of the ice and capitalized on a two-man advantage when Pavelski beat Jimmy Howard from the lower left circle 50 seconds into the third period to give San Jose a 4-2 lead.