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Pavelski Comes Up Big Again

by Tony Khing / San Jose Sharks
When people talk about Game 1 of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals between San Jose and Detroit, they’ll remember how 24-year-old Benn Ferriero scored the biggest goal of his life in overtime on his birthday.

But that goal wouldn’t have happened if Joe Pavelski didn’t put the Sharks on the board in the third period.

Detroit led San Jose, 1-0, after the first 20 minutes. The Sharks had put nine shots on Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. So the Sharks doubled the output with 18 shots in the second period. But after 40 minutes, the score remained the same.

Howard won all four of Detroit’s games in their quarterfinal series against Phoenix. He posted a goals-against average of 2.15 and a .915 save percentage.

“You could tell in the first series against Phoenix that he definitely played well,” Pavelski said. “I don’t know if he had a chip on his shoulder, but he played well.”

However, the situation changed in the third period. After Todd Bertuzzi was called for boarding at 9:41, San Jose struck 41 seconds later. In the neutral zone, Dan Boyle made a pass to Pavelski on the right wing. Pavelski brought it into the Detroit zone and dropped it behind himself to Joe Thornton just as Pavelski and Drew Miller collided.

Thornton went parallel to the net and fired a slap shot that glanced off Howard. Meanwhile, Pavelski stayed on his skates, fought past Miller, drove to the net and made defenseman Niklas Kronwall spin like a top in front of Howard. Pavelski saw the puck, batted it down in mid-air and it went into the open net to tie the game.

“We knew we had to get traffic there (in front of Howard),” Pavelski said. “It was good to see one deflect (into the net). When you get that many opportunities, you’ve got to get one eventually.”

Pavelski’s fourth goal of the postseason came at a very good time for the Sharks. They were doing everything possible to solve Howard, but just needed a break.

“We had a lot of good looks and a lot of pucks bouncing around,” Boyle said. “You score most of your playoff goals in tight. For the most part, they (Detroit) did a pretty good job in clearing rebounds. We got some good looks and were finally rewarded.”

Pavelski didn’t get the game-winner, but when it comes to getting the key goals in postseason, his name always seems to appear. Of his 19 playoff goals, six have been game winners. No. 6 came in overtime of Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Los Angeles. Pavelski has a point in all five of San Jose’s 2011 playoff wins.

Pavelski’s overall game pleased Coach Todd McLellan. In almost 21 minutes, he had five shots. But those stats alone don’t tell the whole story.

“He was pretty darn good,” McLellan said. “Everything about Pavs game we liked. He had a little more command of the power play at the top. He didn’t have many turnovers. He was a very key piece in tonight’s win.”

And to think it all started when Pavelski knocked down a puck in mid-air and into the net – which is a drill the forwards often do before practices.

“It’s not the conventional way to score,” Boyle said, “but it was obviously a huge power play goal.”

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