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Pavelski's two goals rally Sharks past Kings

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Pavelski wouldn't call it a statement win, but he didn't argue that it was a character win for the San Jose Sharks.

Needing to keep pace in the Pacific Division before the Christmas break, Pavelski helped the Sharks close on the Los Angeles Kings with two power-play goals in a span of 1:32 in the third period and San Jose rallied for a 5-3 win at Staples Center on Tuesday.

Pavelski singlehandedly erased a 3-2 deficit with his team-leading 17th and 18th goals to help the Sharks (17-15-2), who trailed 2-0 and 3-1, move within six points of the first-place Kings in the final game before the break.

"If we can get this one, we keep them in our sights," Pavelski said. "If they pull ahead, it's that much more work we've got to do, so it was good to come out and get that."

Pavelski lifted a slick passout from Joe Thornton past Jonathan Quick at 7:38 of the third for the game-winner with Milan Lucic serving a penalty for slashing Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. That came after he tied it 3-3 with a power-play deflection at 6:06.

Burns scored his second goal of the night into an empty net at 18:50 to seal San Jose's NHL-leading 13th road win.

San Jose coach Peter DeBoer likes his team's resiliency.

"A lot of character," DeBoer said. "I said that to them. I've seen glimpses of real special things here through the first half. Our record isn't where we want it to be, but … there's some good things happening here. We have some important people coming back. I think we have the capability of having a very good second half."

Tyler Toffoli scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals for the Kings (20-11-2), who had been 13-1-0 when leading after two periods. Their six-game home winning streak ended, and the loss came after a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday in the finale of a six-game road trip.

"We've won one of our last five," Quick said. "There's nothing to like about that."

Los Angeles has allowed five goals in three of its past four games, an unusual uptick for a team with a defensive foundation.

"These last couple of games we've given up a lot of goals, and that's not our type of hockey," Toffoli said. "We need to find a way back to shutting things down and refocus [and] be ready to play on the 26th."

Toffoli put the Kings ahead 3-1 when he finished a 2-on-1 with Tanner Pearson after Pearson burst down the left wing and fed Toffoli at 17:48 of the second period. But Burns scored his 13th goal 57 seconds later to pull San Jose to 3-2. His shot from the right point went past Quick with teammate Dainius Zubrus creating traffic in front of the net.

Toffoli's first goal came off a faceoff win on a wrist shot that went through a screen and past Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 1:40. Trevor Lewis deflected Dustin Brown's shot from the right circle at 4:32 to give the Kings two goals on their first five shots against their former teammate. Thornton salvaged an otherwise porous first period for San Jose with a goal on a secondary deflection at 12:12. The Sharks were outshot 21-6 in the first.

"We almost got pushed out of the game in the first, and we regrouped between the first and the second," DeBoer said. "Good things happen when you come out and compete."

San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic played after DeBoer left open the possibility that he could be a game-time decision at the morning skate because of an undisclosed injury. Forward Joel Ward missed his second straight second game with an upper-body injury but is expected back after the break.

The Kings play the first of four consecutive road games against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. The Sharks are off until they host the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

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