SAN JOSE, Calif. – Joe Pavelski was happy with the San Jose Sharks’ power-play production even if it lacked artistic value.
Pavelski scored two power-play goals, and the Sharks ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night.
Tomas Hertl also scored on the power play for the Sharks, who earned their first regulation victory at home since Nov. 29. Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots to record his 17th victory.
“It’s doing better,” Pavelski said of the power play. “We found a work ethic. It’s not exactly pretty, but we got more shots off and got some pucks back.”
Jonas Brodin scored for the Wild, who lost their fifth straight on the road. Niklas Backstrom made 36 saves.
“That’s not the way you want to start a game,” Wild forward Jason Pominville said. “They’ve drawn the most penalties in the league, and they showed it tonight. We put ourselves behind the eight ball, and it’s tough to come back when teams have leads.”
Backstrom fell to 1-9-1 in San Jose, and his 3.68 goals-against-average there is his second worst in any arena.
The Sharks went 3 for 7 on the power play after going 0 for 4 in a 3-1 loss to the Wild on Sunday. They scored four times in their previous 39 power plays.
“We went through a stretch where we were losing some games, and the power play was the reason we weren’t winning,” Sharks centre Logan Couture said. “Now we’re starting to score some goals, and it’s good to see.”
San Jose took a 1-0 lead just 5:54 into the game. Pavelski got the puck from Dan Boyle on the left side and bounced a shot past Backstrom and into the net.
“It must be nice to draw penalties like that,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “The other team goes stick on puck and just kind of holds their head. The first penalty . . . to me, that was embarrassing. I guess we have to ask our players to embellish more.”
The Sharks added another power-play goal with 5:17 left in the first. Tommy Wingels drove down the right side, drawing the defence toward him, before dropping the puck off for Hertl, who had a clear shot into the net.
“This is why I’m upset,” Yeo said. “Our guys battled hard. We didn’t do enough, there’s no question. We were in the box too much. We didn’t finish well enough. Penalty kills, it doesn’t matter how many times they dive or embellish, we have to make sure we kill them off.”
During their four-game slide, the Sharks gave up a pair of two-goal leads, including Tuesday’s shootout loss to the New York Islanders.
Pavelski made it 3-0 at 3:42 of the second period on another power play. Matt Irwin’s shot bounced free, and Pavelski was there to drive it home.
“Even 3-0 is not safe,” Niemi said. “We had to stay on our toes, get some offence, and play hard on both ends.”
Joe Thornton’s second assist of the game put him in sole possession of 26th place on the NHL career list with 816.
“That third goal was big for us,” Pavelski said. “It gave us that cushion we haven’t been able to get lately.”
Brodin scored with 7:24 remaining to bring the Wild within 3-1. His shot hit Sharks defenceman Brad Stuart and caromed past Niemi.
“Obviously, he wasn’t trying to do that,” Couture said. “It was knuckling and I didn’t have my eyes up to see it. We still saw a couple of Niemi highlight saves.”
Ryan Suter recorded an assist for the second straight game after going the previous eight without one.
NOTES: The Wild recalled F Brett Bulmer from the Iowa Wild. … The Sharks held their opponent scoreless in the first period for the sixth straight game. … The Wild dropped to 1-8 in their last nine games in San Jose. … Thornton moved into a tie for 49th place on the NHL career points list with Michel Goulet with 1,152 points. … Pavelski has 11 goals in 17 games against the Wild. … Sharks D Scott Hannan missed his second game because of an upper-body injury. … The Wild have allowed the first goal in eight consecutive road games.