Kurz's Instant Replay: Sharks clinch playoff berth with 3-2 win
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SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored just half a minute apart in the third period and the Sharks clinched their ninth straight playoff berth with a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.

Pavelski deflected a Brad Stuart shot from the point at 14:23 to tie the game at two, and Couture fired a pass from the slot by Patrick Marleau into a wide open net just 30 seconds later in what was the Sharks’ final home game of the regular season. San Jose finished with a stellar 17-2-5 mark on its own rink.

The Sharks (25-14-7) remain in fifth place in the Western Conference, tied with Los Angeles with 57 points, with the Kings owning the tiebreaker. The St. Louis Blues have 56 points and are in sixth.

The Sharks got into penalty trouble at the end of the first period with the game tied 1-1, taking three preventable minors.

Scott Hannan's elbowing penalty at 17:48 was followed by Stuart’s interference minor at 18:28, giving the Stars a lengthy five-on-three. The Sharks killed off the two-man advantage, and Justin Braun nearly scored for San Jose on a partial breakaway, but a slashing penalty on Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the 20-minute mark gave Dallas 28 more seconds of five-on-three time to start the second period.

Loui Eriksson finally made them pay when he deposited the rebound of a Ray Whitney blast just 17 seconds after the faceoff. It was the only goal of the frame, as Kari Lehtonen made a number of good saves to keep Dallas ahead.

The goaltender denied Vlasic alone in front, stopped a Marleau backhander, turned aside a Dan Boyle one-timer with five minutes to go, and kept his pad on the ice to block Andrew Desjardins’ attempt in the slot with 30 seconds to go before the second intermission.

Lehtonen kept it up early in the third period with successive stops on Pavelski and Boyle about four minutes into the period, but could not hold the fort late as Dallas' playoff chances were all but extinguished.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead on the power play. On a rush up the ice, Matt Irwin found Marty Havlat, who quickly dished to Scott Gomez, who gave a backhander to Raffi Torres for a tip-in at 12:53. The goal was Torres’ second with the Sharks. Havlat has five points (3g, 2a) in his last three games after failing to record a point in 10 of his previous 11.

Dallas responded less than two minutes later. On a shot he usually handles with ease, Antti Niemi allowed the rebound of a Cody Eakin shot to be poked in by Antoine Roussel at 14:32.

Earlier in the first, San Jose had a surplus of scoring chances on its first power play when the Stars were caught with too many men on the ice at the six-minute mark. Lehtonen stopped a Marleau blast from the circle, the rebound attempt by Couture, and a deflection by Pavelski rang off of the crossbar.

The Sharks finished 1-2-1 against Dallas this season.

Special teams
The Sharks were 1-for-3 on the power play, and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.

They have allowed a single power play goal against in five of their last seven games.

In goal
Niemi made his 24th straight start, and made 24 saves. He leads the NHL with 24 wins.

Lehtonen took the loss with 34 saves, many spectacular.

Lehtonen was facing the Sharks for the second time this season. Richard Bachman and Cristopher Nihlstorp recorded one win each against the Sharks in the season series.

Jason Demers remains out indefinitely with a left ankle sprain. Hannan played for the third time since he was acquired at the trade deadline from Nashville.

Dallas’ Alex Chiasson, who had three goals in two games against the Sharks, was scratched with a shoulder injury.

Up next
The Sharks visit the Coyotes on Wednesday night, and close out the regular season at the Staples Center against the Kings on Saturday.