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Sharks edge Flames for fourth straight win

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski waited 528 games to get his first career NHL hat trick Saturday night in a 5-4 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One game later, Pavelski nearly had hat trick No. 2.

Pavelski continued his torrid streak Monday, scoring two goals and leading the Sharks to a 3-2 victory against the Calgary Flames at SAP Center.

Pavelski now has 27 goals this season and is tied for second in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks' Corey Perry. He's four goals shy of tying his career high of 31 set two seasons ago.

Coming off his hat trick, Pavelski produced his 23rd career two-goal game. He has 18 goals in his past 20 games.

"I feel good," Pavelski said. "Obviously, there are nights where you don't feel your best and you find a way to get one or two. It feels how you should play the game all the time, to be honest. It's the way you picture it. I've just visualized this a few times, so it shouldn't be anything new."

Pavelski continued feasting on the Flames. He has 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 29 career games against Calgary, and his two-goal game Monday helped the Sharks get two points despite a sloppy performance.

"We weren't very good, obviously," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I didn't think we skated well. We didn't move our feet and then we tried to pass standing still, and they were errant. [We] had no rhythm or tempo in the game and really didn't establish a forecheck game other than the first four or five minutes of the game. So it was a night we probably got away with one. The mindset wasn't real good, so we've got to regroup here. If we continue to play like that, we won't be winning."

Tommy Wingels also scored for the Sharks (32-12-6), who won their fourth straight game. They and have won all three games against Calgary this season.

Calgary (16-27-7), which lost its fourth straight game, had goals from Jiri Hudler and Kevin Westgarth.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 21 saves; Calgary's Karri Ramo made 24.

"We're disappointed in the loss, but you can't fault the effort," said Flames center Matt Stajan, who signed a four-year extension before the game. "We had our chances. If we continue to work like that we’ll give ourselves a chance no doubt about it. It just wasn't good enough to win tonight."

The Flames, who had 101 penalty minutes in a 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, took only one penalty the entire game, a two-minute minor, while the Sharks were not penalized. It was San Jose's ninth penalty-free game in franchise history and second this season.

Hudler gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 4:08 of the first with his 13th goal of the season. Hudler got the puck along the left boards, darted past Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart and beat Niemi with backhand to the far side from close range.

Pavelski answered for the Sharks at 12:22 of the first with a tip-in of Justin Braun's blast from the blue line.

What's been the secret to Pavelski's red-hot streak?

"I wish we all knew because we'd all try to follow that same recipe for success," Wingels said. "It's fun to watch. They go in a whole different variety of ways as you saw tonight. When you're hot, you're hot. He'll certainly take it and as a team we'll take it as well."

Wingels gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead 21 seconds later, blasting a shot from above the right circle that bounced off Ramo's pads and trickled over the goal line.

Calgary pulled even at 13:34 of the first on Westgarth's first goal of the season. Niemi stopped Brian McGrattan's shot from the right circle but couldn't control the rebound, and a hard-charging Westgarth, a fourth-line wing, scored from the slot.

"That's one of our best games since I've been here," Westgarth said. "That team is good."

Pavelski struck again at 14:54 of the second with a power play goal, giving San Jose a 3-2 lead. Planted in front of the crease, Pavelski redirected a pass from Joe Thornton past Ramo.

"The ice was just so bouncy tonight, I just tried to get it in the general direction," Thornton said. "He just made a great play, just hand-eye coordination. He's just playing great right now. The puck seems to hit him right now and go in."

Thornton moved past Bobby Hull into sole possession of 48th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,171st career point.

Flames forward Paul Byron left the game early in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Sharks forward Matthew Nieto left the game midway through the second after a Flames shot deflected off of Wingels' skate and hit him in the nose, but he returned for the start of the third period.

Defenseman Kris Russell and forward David Jones returned to the lineup for Calgary. Russell missed 13 games with a knee injury, while Jones missed eight games with an eye injury.

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