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Pavelski's pair leads Sharks past Avs, 4-2

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- Joe Pavelski continues to make life miserable for the Colorado Avalanche.

The San Jose Sharks center, who scored 5 goals against the Avalanche in last year's first-round playoff series, connected for 2 power-play goals in Thursday night's rematch, a 4-2 Sharks win at the Pepsi Center.

Dany Heatley set up both second-period goals for a Sharks team that has scored 8 of its 13 goals this season with the man advantage.

"I don't know what it is," Pavelski said of his uncanny success against Colorado. "I just have to keep playing here, I guess. It's just one of those things. It must be the lighting. Who knows, but the team played good tonight. We knew there were going to be a few mistakes, but we worked hard and kept it simple."

Sharks goalie Antero Nittymaki, making his second start of the young season, had 29 saves and Logan Couture finished off the Avalanche by scoring into an empty net with 1:12 remaining in the game.

Couture scored after Douglas Murray's clearing attempt bounced off a linesman, but some Avalanche players thought the puck first hit something on the Sharks bench, which would have wiped out the goal.

"I couldn't tell from where I was," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "I know a few of the players thought that it hit their bench, but the referee said it hit the linesman. That's why they didn't blow it down."

The game turned on penalties in the second period. The Avalanche took four minors -- Matt Duchene was assessed two of them and three on the night -- and the Sharks used their potent power play to grab the lead.

"It's pretty straightforward, it was a well-played game but in the second period we take four penalties in a row," Sacco said. "Against that team, you can't do that. That's two games in a row now where we're taking too many unnecessary penalties. To me, simply, it was the difference in the game."  

The Sharks were more than happy to take advantage.

"We gave them a lot of different looks (on the power play)," Heatley said. "If we're moving the puck well, someone is going to be open and is going to make a good shot."

Pavelski put the Sharks in front 2-1 at 1:08 of the second period after Avalanche penalty killer Ryan O'Reilly broke his stick and had to drop it. Heatley passed through the slot and Pavelski scored inside the left post.

"The puck was just laying there and I just had to put it upstairs," Pavelski said.

Pavelski scored again at 8:44 during a two-man advantage with Colorado forwards Kevin Porter (holding) and TJ Galiardi (delay of game) in the penalty box. After Heatley put a shot on goalie Craig Anderson, Pavelski pulled out the loose puck and shoved it into the net.

"You need the power play to be a strength," Pavelski said. "You can win a lot of games like that. The PK could be a little better, but we got the kills at the right time. That's good to see because we haven't had that very often this year."

The Avalanche climbed within 3-2 on Milan Hejduk's power-play goal at 7:25 of the third period. Chris Stewart shoveled the puck to Hejduk following a shot by John-Michael Liles, who has amassed 9 assists in a franchise-record seven-game point-scoring streak from the start of a season.

"Bottom line is that it's unfortunate that we lost tonight," Liles said. "As far as the assists go, I'm getting the puck to guys who are scoring a lot of goals."

Colorado had a chance to tie the game with a 4-on-3 skating advantage that began with 10:52 to play but couldn't convert.

Playing its first home game since opening the season Oct. 7 against Chicago, the Avalanche struck first on a goal by Kyle Cumiskey, who fired the puck into an unguarded net at 14:43 of the first period.

Niittymaki left the crease and passed the puck off the end boards. It bounced to Stewart, who slid it back to Cumiskey for a quick shot into the unguarded net.

Scott Nichol tied the game for San Jose with 48.1 seconds remaining in the period. Jamal Mayers, playing his first game since suffering an arm injury in the preseason, shot the puck from the left circle and Nichol put it past Anderson while jousting for position with Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey.

The Avalanche lost captain Adam Foote to a head injury in the first period. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.

"We'll know more (Friday)," Sacco said.

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