SAN JOSE -- A lot of things that were going wrong lately went right Thursday night as the Sharks stopped their losing streak at four games with a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Twice in that skid, San Jose failed to protect two-goal leads. This time, San Jose built its lead to three goals for a little more breathing room to help goalie Antti Niemi earn his 17th win of the season.
"Kind of like déjà vu. We go up 2-0 in the first, and I thought we responded a lot better," Logan Couture said. "We were able to get a win we really needed."
And all three of the San Jose goals -- two by Joe Pavelski sandwiched around one by Tomas Hertl -- came on a power play that was much-maligned by coach Todd McLellan after his team lost to the same Wild by the same score Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center.
"The one thing they got back was their work ethic for the most part," McLellan said of his power play unit. "You start there, and you can certainly build off it. A 'three-for' night is certainly a good night, a night that we'll take, and it obviously won us the game."
The Sharks had their 2-0 lead before the end of the first period on goals by Pavelski and Hertl, with Pavelski adding another in the middle period. A goal by Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin with 7:24 left in the game was the only one of 30 shots to get past Niemi.
Special teams clearly made the difference in this one as the Sharks ended up 3 for 7 with the man advantage after going 1 for 13 during the losing streak. But the fact San Jose had seven power play chances to three for the Wild had Minnesota coach Mike Yeo accusing the Sharks of embellishment.
"It must be nice to draw penalties like that," Yeo said. "Make sure you look at the first penalty. Because to me, that's embarrassing. I guess we've got to ask our players to embellish more."
That first penalty saw Wild forward Justin Fontaine off for high-sticking Brad Stuart, with San Jose going ahead 1-0 on Pavelski's one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle at 5:54.
Later in the first, the Sharks had a 5-on-3 edge when Joe Thornton drew two penalties 30 seconds apart as Fontaine was called for interference and Matt Cooke was whistled for tripping.
San Jose didn't score with the two-man advantage, but with four seconds left at 5-on-4, Tommy Wingels fed Hertl and the Sharks rookie fired a quick wrist shot that beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom at 14:43.
Niemi's biggest save came with Minnesota on the power play later in the period, and Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon pinching in.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the second period with help of a phantom penalty call against the Wild. Jason Demers was struck by teammate Freddie Hamilton's stick, but the call went against Wild forward Zenon Konopka. Pavelski then pounced on a rebound at 3:52 for his second goal of the night.
Late in the period, it was the Sharks' penalty kill that looked strong after Hertl went to the box for the first time this season. Even with Stuart breaking his stick early on, San Jose staved off sustained pressure from the Wild. And when Hertl got out of the box, he raced to the puck before icing could be called and enabled a tired group of defenders get off the ice.
Minnesota got the lone goal of the third period when Brodin's shot from the blue line glanced off Stuart and into the net.
This was the 21st time Pavelski has scored two goals, though he is still looking for his first hat trick.
"Hopefully it comes," he said, "but I'll take 100 two-goal games."
Sharks (20-6-6) at Nashville (15-14-3), 5 p.m. CSNCA
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