Pavelski scores twice as Sharks nip Flames
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Pavelski scoffed at the suggestion he has the league goal-scoring lead in his sights. Teammates of the San Jose Sharks left winger don't find the thought funny at all.
Pavelski continued his torrid goal-scoring stretch with two more Monday as the San Jose Sharks beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 at SAP Center.
"I feel good," Pavelski said. "Obviously there's nights you don't feel your best and you try to find a way. It feels the way you should play the game all the time."
Moved to the top line after an injury to rookie sensation Tomas Hertl 15 games ago, Pavelski has scored 18 goals in his past 20 games move into a second-place tie with the Anaheim Ducks' Corey Perry, each at 27. The Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin leads the NHL with 35 goals.
"I wish we all knew (Pavelski's secret) because we'd all follow that recipe for success," San Jose center Tommy Wingels said. "It's fun to watch. They go in a whole different variety of ways. When you're hot, you're hot. He'll certainly take it, and we'll take it as well."
Meanwhile, it was a narrow loss for a Calgary team that fell to 1-6-1 in its past eight, 2-10-1 in 13, and 0-2-1 against the high-octane Sharks.
"We're disappointed in the loss, but you can't fault the effort," Calgary center Matt Stajan said. "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."
After their wild, brawl-marred game in Vancouver on Saturday, the Flames didn't take their first minor penalty until the midway point Monday, but it was costly.
San Jose right winger Eriah Hayes drew an interference call on Stajan. The Sharks converted 26 seconds into the man advantage when Pavelski tipped center Joe Thornton's pass through Calgary goalie Karri Ramo at 14:54.
Pavelski led a charge across the Calgary blue line, and the Flames' penalty-killers appeared to freeze for a moment, allowing Thornton to corral the loose puck.
"I think it was just so high in the air no one knew where it was, and it landed right in front of me," the Sharks captain said. "Lucky to get my stick on it."
Thornton fired a pass from the slot to Pavelski alone at the side of the net, and the San Jose sniper batted in the puck, which was about a foot off the ice.
"The ice was just so bouncy tonight, I tried to get it in the general direction, and he just made a great, hand-eye coordination play to score," Thornton said.
It was the only goal of the final 40 minutes after the teams played a wide-open opening 20 minutes and scored twice each. The Flames did not earn a power play for the fourth time this season as the Sharks displayed strong discipline throughout, especially in the third period, when the Flames made a strong push.
"It's a big reason we've had success and (are) winning games," Wingels said of San Jose's league-low number of short-handed situations. "When you stay disciplined, you often limit the other team's scoring chances."
The game was tied 2-2 after a wide-open, mistake-filled and penalty-free first period that saw each team's goalie struggle.
Calgary broke on top when left winger Jiri Hudler beat Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart for puck possession in the corner, walked out front and used a move to the backhand to fool Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at 4:08 on the Flames' first shot.
The Sharks answered with two goals in 21 seconds just past the midway point of the period.
San Jose defenseman Justin Braun's shot from the left point caromed first off of Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano then off Pavelski on its way past Ramo at 12:22.
On the next shift, Wingels circled the Calgary zone, then dished to center Patrick Marleau before getting it back for a shot from the far edge of the right circle that trickled through Ramo at 12:43 for his 10th goal.
Calgary tough guy left winger Kevin Westgarth scored his first of the year at 13:34. He beat Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin to a juicy rebound left by Niemi on a point shot by right winger Brian McGrattan that seemed to fool the San Jose netminder.
Ramo finished with 24 saves.
"We felt like we had some great chances," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "They dominated the first five minutes, but then we got our legs back under us and played them even. We played well enough to get a better result, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
NOTES: The Flames lost LW Paul Byron to a lower-body injury early in the second period. ... Calgary's C Matt Stajan signed a four-year contract extension for an annual cap hit of $3,125,000. ... Flames coach Bob Hartley was fined $25,000 by the league Monday for his part in Saturday's game at Vancouver in which fights broke out all over the ice two seconds after the opening faceoff. Calgary GM Brian Burke said, "I am perplexed by this fine. I stand behind Bob Hartley completely in this regard." The NHL's Colin Campbell said, "We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game's opening faceoff and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent." ... The Sharks opened a four-game homestand and a stretch of playing eight of their final 10 pre-Olympic games at home. ... Calgary capped a two-game trip. The Flames begin a five-game homestand Wednesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. ... LW Martin Havlat and RW Mike Brown were San Jose's healthy scratches. D Shane O'Brien, D Derek Smith, C Ben Street and C Mike Cammalleri and ex-Shark LW T.J. Galiardi did not dress for Calgary.