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Sharks capitalize on Jets' mistake in victory

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Pavelski did it again. Alex Stalock, too.

The NHL's hottest goal scorer broke a scoreless tie in the third period, batting in a rebound as the Sharks capitalized on a rare Winnipeg Jets mistake Thursday night to skate away with a 1-0 victory.

And San Jose's backup netminder pitched his second consecutive shutout, making 20 saves to extend the Sharks' winning streak to five games.

Pavelski's goal was his 28th of the season, seventh in the last four games and 19th in the last 21. He's now alone in second place among NHL goal scorers, trailing only Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals with 35.

"We hope it lasts for a long time," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski's torrid streak. "Right spot, right time, great hand-eye."

The Sharks had just completed their second unsuccessful power play when the lone goal was scored at 6:48 of the final period, with Pavelski starting and finishing the sequence.

Pavelski's initial shot was blocked, but Jets forward Olli Jokinen failed to clear the puck out of the zone. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun corralled it at the blue line, then skated to the high slot and sent a soft backhand toward goalie Onrej Pavelec. The Jets netminder made the initial stop only to have Pavelski punch in the rebound.

"It was one of those that's just kind of hovering," Pavelski said, "and you're going to the net hoping for something like that and I just touched it."

All Stalock did was extend his shutout streak to 140:59, having beaten the Florida Panthers 3-0 a week earlier. He hasn't given up a goal since 4:01 of the third period of San Jose's 3-2 shootout victory in Chicago on Jan. 5.

"It's awesome," Pavelski said of Stalock's recent run. "He's come in and played great for us. He's made some big saves along the way. Nemo has been great. Al steps in on the odd nights and has been phenomenal."

Stalock's most dramatic save came late in the first period as he slid across the goal mouth to rob Jets captain Andrew Ladd at the end of a 2-on-1 rush.

"They made a cross pass to him and he was streaking in," said Stalock, who shared credit on the play with his defense. "He was going to have to lunge for it, so I just wanted to make it over there. We had a d-man on him under his stick, so he wasn't able to get much on it."

McLellan had said he'd begin using Stalock more often because of starter Antti Niemi's upcoming trip to the Winter Olympics with Team Finland, hoping to keep Niemi fresh for the playoffs. Stalock normally has waited four to eight games between opportunities, but this time there had been only two since he shut out Florida.

Did the shorter gap help?

"Maybe a little bit. You kind of are right back at it, game speed," Stalock said. "But every game is different."

Neither team could sustain much offensive pressure in a well-played, but relatively uneventful first two periods.

At one point it appeared the Sharks had taken a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by -- who else? -- Pavelski. But the referee waved it off immediately, ruling Joe Thornton had crashed into and interfered with Pavelec.

"It felt like my feet kind of like got kicked," Thornton said. "I don't know if it was the goalie. I just kind of went down. Too bad, but thank god it didn't affect the game."

-- The San Francisco Bulls have been given more time for an ownership transfer that would prevent the ECHL franchise from folding. And with the process continuing, Bulls CEO Angela Batinovich said in a letter on the team's website that the current owners "currently have no intention to cancel any games."

-- Right wing Mike Brown was back in the Sharks lineup after missing three games with a stiff neck.--(c)

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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