EDMONTON, Alberta -- Now those Sharks looked more like a team competing for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
After two shootout losses, Joe Pavelski's third hat trick of the season and a suddenly productive power play led San Jose to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers that built the Sharks' division lead to four points over the Anaheim Ducks, though their rivals do have three games in hand.
Pavelski's 37 goals for the season again tied him for second in the NHL, and coach Todd McLellan was quick to link Pavelski's career year to the players surrounding him.
"He's been our go-to guy as far as finishing goes," McLellan said. "A very smart player who gets to the right spot and has smart people around him to get him the puck."
Two of Pavelski's three goals came on a power play that was 3 for 3 after falling to 23rd in the NHL, with Patrick Marleau also scoring with a man advantage. The Sharks added an even-strength tally by Marty Havlat while Edmonton got an early goal from David Perron and a late one from Taylor Hall. Antti Niemi made 28 saves for his league-leading 36th win.
The victory was a far cry from San Jose's previous visit when they were Jan. 29 victims of a 59-save shutout by Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens.
Still, Scrivens did stop the first 19 pucks he faced before Pavelski cleaned up a rebound of a shot by Marleau for his first goal at 6:58 of the second period. And, yes, the Sharks were starting to remember that last game.
"We had some chances and didn't get any so you can't help but think a little bit," Pavelski said. "He's been hot against us, but we knew we could get to him. We just had to stay with it. The first goal is how you have to score on him. It has to be an empty net."
McLellan mixed his lines up in the first period in response to the absence of Logan Couture, who missed the game after a hard shot struck him near the ankle the previous night. San Jose had trouble sustaining offense and Edmonton got on the scoreboard first at 4:11 of the first period on a slick move by Perron and a shot that beat Niemi.
With their lines closer to normal after the first break, the Sharks came out much more determined team in a second period they would lead 3-1 before it was over.
Less than three minutes after Pavelski's first goal, Marleau blasted a shot past Scrivens from the right faceoff circle. The lead grew to 3-1 with just 30.3 seconds left before the first intermission when Havlat was part of a developing 3-on-1 rush and elected to shoot rather than pass.
Pavelski added two goals in the third period, the first on a power play at 1:17 when he took a pass from Dan Boyle and had enough time to freeze Scrivens, the second at 13:00 on a shot from the slot that found the back of the net after breaking the stick of Oiler forward Matt Hendricks.
Pavelski, who also assisted on Marleau's goal, cited Thornton's patience along the wall before sending him the puck for helping him get his third hat trick in 26 games after going seven seasons without one.
"It kind of allowed me to back off a little bit and I found a little luck off that broken stick," Pavelski said. "It probably doesn't go in otherwise."
McLellan praised his team's overall effort.
"For the amount of hockey we've played and the traveling we've done," he said, "it was good to see guys dig in and find a way to win."
Winnipeg (32-32-9) at Sharks (47-18-9), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA