SAN JOSE, Calif. – Even on a night when the play was hampered by choppy ice, the puck still seems to find Joe Pavelski and he keeps finding the net.
Pavelski scored twice to move into a tie for the second most goals in the NHL this season and help the San Jose Sharks beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 Monday night.
“It feels how you should play the game all the time, to be honest,” Pavelski said. “It’s the way you picture it. I’ve just visualized this a few times, so it shouldn’t be anything new.”
Pavelski scored on a deflection in the first period and on the power play in the second to give him five goals in his past two games and 18 in the past 20 to tie Anaheim’s Corey Perry with 27 on the season. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 35.
“It’s fun to watch,” teammate Tommy Wingels said. “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 also scored and Antti Niemi made 21 saves for the Sharks, who returned home from a perfect three-game road trip with a win over struggling Calgary to open a pre-Olympic stretch of eight games out of 10 at home.
Jiri Hudler and Kevin Westgarth scored for the Flames, who have lost four straight games and 11 of 13. Karri Ramo made 24 saves.
“We’re disappointed in the loss, but you can’t fault the effort,” forward Matt Stajan said. “We had our chances. If we continue to work like that we’ll give ourselves a chance no doubt about it.”
Pavelski followed up his first career hat trick on Saturday in Tampa Bay with his third multi-goal game in his past six as he thrives on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Pavelski is four goals shy of matching his career high of 31 set two seasons ago.
He broke a tie late in the second period after Stajan was sent off for interfering with Eriah Hayes on the only penalty of the game.
After a broken play at the blue line, Jason Demers kept the puck in the offensive zone and passed to Thornton, who was all alone on the opposite side of the ice. Thornton fired a cross-ice pass to Pavelski, who was alone near the front of the net and deflected the pass past Ramo to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead.
“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 co-ordination. He’s just playing great right now. The puck seems to hit him right now and go in.”
Both teams scored twice during the first period with help from shaky goaltending from Niemi and Ramo. The four goals came on 18 shots and included three in a span of 1:12 midway through the period.
The Flames started the scoring when Hudler beat Brad Stuart in the corner and then beat Niemi with a backhand from in front of the net for his 13th goal.
The Sharks responded with two goals in a 21-second span with Pavelski tipping Justin Braun’s point shot for the first and Wingels beating Ramo with a bad angle shot from near the boards to snap a 15-game goalless stretch.
Less than a minute later, Niemi allowed a big rebound in the slot on a shot by Brian McGrattan and Westgarth got to the rebound ahead of Matt Irwin for his first goal in 23 games this season.
Westgarth was happy to contribute two days after he was part of the game-opening line brawl against Vancouver that led to coach Bob Hartley getting fined $25,000 earlier in the day.
“I don’t know what is being said about me and I don’t care,” Westgarth said. “I know the guys in this room respect me and that’s all that matters. I figured something would be happening. You don’t want to have a line brawl like that very often.”
This game had just one minor penalty compared to the 204 combined minutes of penalties between the Canucks and Flames on Saturday.
NOTES: With the assist on Pavelski’s second goal, Thornton moved past Bobby Hull for 48th on the career scoring list with 1,171 points. … Flames F Paul Byron left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. … Calgary F David Jones (eye) returned to the lineup after missing eight games and D Kris Russell (knee) was back after missing the past 13 games.