SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Patrick Marleau extended his point streak to eight games and Antti Niemi won his 100th regular-season contest with the Sharks on Saturday night as San Jose earned a 6-3 win over the Calgary Flames.
Yet it would be hard not to argue that the best player on the ice for the Sharks was Joe Pavelski, who had two goals and two remarkable assists -- including one on Marleau's second period goal -- to help San Jose bounce back from its 4-3 shootout loss to Dallas just two nights earlier.
The win gives the Sharks, who scored three power-play goals Saturday, a little bit of momentum as they begin a five-game trip Monday at Detroit that continues through Boston, Montreal, Ottawa and Los Angeles.
Pavelski, now with 12 points on the season and a near-lock to be a part of Team USA for the Sochi Olympics, helped open the scoring for the Sharks less than a minute into the game. He won a battle for the puck in the Flames' corner with Calgary defenseman Kris Russell and fed a wide open Brent Burns, who scored to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into the game.
With the Sharks leading 2-1, Pavelski scored on the power play as he redirected a wrist shot by Marleau past Flames goalie Karri Ramo with 11:03 left in the second period.
To finish off the Sharks scoring in the period, Pavelski, with the Sharks on the power play, returned the favor to an open Marleau with a cross-ice pass through traffic.
Marleau's goal gave the Sharks a 4-1 lead, but the Flames scored twice early in the third period on goals by Mikael Backlund and Jiri Hudler. San Jose responded with its third power play goal, as Logan Couture's shot from the point was tipped by Pavelski past Ramo to give the Sharks a 5-3 lead. Couture added an empty-net goal at 18:38.
Special teams played a big role for the Sharks. Along with going 3-for-9 with the man advantage, San Jose killed four of five penalties, including a hooking call on Scott Hannan after the Flames had cut the lead to 4-3.
Niemi is now 11-2-1 in 14 career games against Calgary, and the Sharks have an 8-2-1 record over the Flames dating to 2010-11 season.
-- The Sharks sent forward Bracken Kearns to Worcester on Saturday, but did not make a corresponding move, leaving them momentarily with just 12 healthy forwards. Marty Havlat is improving from offseason pelvic surgery but still has hurdles to clear, according to coach Todd McLellan. Adam Burish (back surgery) and Raffi Torres (knee surgery) are on the injured reserve list.
Havlat has been skating with the team but still "has a gap to close before he can play in a game," according to McLellan.Defenseman Dan Boyle has also not been placed on injured reserve, leaving the Sharks with just six healthy defensemen. McLellan did not have a further health update on Boyle, who had to leave the ice on a stretcher after an illegal hit by St. Louis' Max Lapierre on Oct. 15, other than saying Boyle's been resting and working with the Sharks' medical staff.
-- Niemi, who entered Saturday with a 1.70 goals against average, started for the eighth straight game. McLellan mentioned last week before the Sharks played at St. Louis that he'd like to start backup goalie Alex Stalock into a game, but said Saturday that Niemi is not tired.
"We'd love to put two nets out there and have them both play at the same time," McLellan said. "Nemo's comfortable, he's rested, he feels good, wants to play. Alex will play. We're not going to play Nemo 82 games, so Alex will play."
All five games on the upcoming trip are spaced apart by at least one day. The Sharks do not play back to back nights until Nov. 14 and 15 against Vancouver and Edmonton, respectively.
(c)2013 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services