SAN JOSE -- Maybe it's just coincidence, but Joe Pavelski has five goals in the five games since he learned officially that he would be going to the Sochi Olympics as a member of Team USA.
Two of those goals came Thursday night, helping the Sharks to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings -- and there was almost a third for the first hat trick of his career. Pavelski's wrist shot from the left faceoff circle with 23 seconds left went wide of the net.
"It'll happen, I bet. Hopefully," said a smiling Pavelski, who now has had 22 two-goal games. "We'll see, we'll keep trying."
San Jose got its other goals from Andrew Desjardins and Dan Boyle to improve to 11-2-1 over its longtime rivals over the last 14 games. Goalie Antti Niemi gave up a first-period goal to Detroit forward Tomas Tatar but stopped 24 other shots for the win.
The injury-depleted Sharks also welcomed Tommy Wingels and Tyler Kennedy back to the lineup. And while neither figured in the scoring, their presence benefited a team still missing five injured forwards, including Logan Couture.
"We're not in the perfect place, but it certainly helped," coach Todd McLellan said of Kennedy's return from a bout with the flu and Wingels' recovery from an upper-body injury. "What it really did was put guys more in position than anything. I thought the lines we put together were effective. Got minutes from everybody."
Not that the Red Wings weren't dealing with injuries of their own, with star forward Pavel Datsyuk at the top of their list, out with a groin problem.
The Sharks opened the scoring at 4:59 of the opening period on Pavelski's first goal of the night after Joe Thornton again showed how he has come to lead the NHL with 45 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 for a one-timer that beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.
"Yeah, we were on each other probably all the way from the neutral zone," Pavelski said of his shift against Zetterberg. "As we were battling, I was able to see that Jumbo had the puck and had some time and was able to pop off."
The Red Wings tied the game at 16:48 of the first period on Tatar's goal, but a second period that has been the Sharks' downfall much of the season was where San Jose won the game with three unanswered goals.
Desjardins scored only his second of the season when he fired a shot from along the left boards that found its way through the opening Howard left on the short side at 9:44.
Pavelski's second goal of the game and 21st of the season came less than three minutes later when he took a rebound of a shot by Brad Stuart, kicked it to his stick and flipped the puck into the Detroit net to make it 3-1. And San Jose's fourth goal of the night came on its third power-play opportunity, when Boyle pinched deep into the right faceoff circle and beat Howard at 16:28.
When the third period began, Howard was on the bench in favor of backup Petr Mrazek. And while there was no scoring, 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, Bertuzzi capping the exchange by throwing his helmet at the Sharks forward.
And with 1:53 remaining, Scott Hannan decided to go after Detroit veteran Dan Cleary, drawing an instigator penalty and 10-minute misconduct in addition to the five for fighting.
7:30 p.m. CSNCA