SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Maybe it was the comforts of home, maybe it was the return of two injured forwards to their depleted lineup.
Either way, the Sharks continued their recent dominance of the Detroit Red Wings with a 4-1 victory Thursday night, improving their record to 11-2-1 against their longtime rivals in their last 14 games.
Back from a three-game road trip, San Jose got two goals from Joe Pavelski, with Andrew Desjardins and Dan Boyle contributing one each, while goalie Antti Niemi gave up a goal to Tomas Tatar, but stopped 24 other pucks for the win.
And while neither player figured in the scoring, having both Tommy Wingels back from an upper body injury and Tyler Kennedy skating after a bout with the flu had to help a San Jose team still minus five injured forwards, including Logan Couture.
The Red Wings made the move to the Eastern Conference as part of the NHL's realignment, so this was their only visit this season.
And while their 19-14-10 record wasn't as intimidating as in years' past and superstar Pavel Datsyuk was out with a groin injury, Todd McLellan wasn't taking his former employer lightly.
"Well, they're the best road team in the league, and that's really all that matters for us right now because we're playing at home tonight," the Sharks coach said before the game, referring to Detroit's 13-4-3 record away from the Joe Louis Arena.
McLellan neglected to mention that his team has been strong at home all season with a 15-1-3 record heading into the game.
The Sharks did get on the board first at 4:59 of the opening period with Joe Thornton again showing how he happens to lead the NHL in assists.
The Sharks captain held onto the puck in the offensive zone just long enough for Pavelski to slip away from Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, then zipped the puck to Pavelski, who one-timed it past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.
But the Red Wings tied the game at 16:48 when Tatar set up camp behind the San Jose net, then took advantage of the fact Marc-Edouard Vlasic had lost his stick by skating out on his side, then lifting a backhand over Niemi.
The second period has been the Sharks' downfall much of the season, but they scored three unanswered goals to break the game open.
Desjardins scored only his second goal of the season when he skated around Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl and fired a shot from a harsh angle along the left boards that beat Howard on the short side at 9:44.
Pavelski got his second of the game and 20th of the season less than three minutes later when he took a rebound of a shot by Brad Stuart, kicked the puck to his stick and flipped the puck into the Detroit net to make it 3-1.
The Sharks got their first power-play goal of the night on their third opportunity when Boyle pinched deep into the right faceoff circle and beat Howard for a 4-1 lead at 16:28.
When the third period began, Howard was on the bench, yanked by Detroit coach Mike Babcock in favor of backup Petr Mrazek.
The game turned chippy in the late stages with both of the newly returned Sharks in the middle of things. First Kennedy came out on the short end of a fight with Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey. Shortly after that, Wingels and Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi went off for roughing. With 1:53 remaining, Scott Hannan sought out Dan Cleary and both watched the end of the game from the locker room.
The win gave San Jose a sweep of the season series with Detroit, having beaten the Red Wings 1-0 in a shootout Oct. 21.
-- Defenseman Matt Irwin sat out the game with a lower body injury suffered midway through Tuesday night's 3-2 loss in Nashville.
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