GLENDALE -– Two of Joe Pavelski’s three goals on Friday night in Arizona won’t end up on his postseason highlight reel. One came on a fortunate deflection off of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s skate, while another was into an empty net.
Regardless, it’s become commonplace for the 30-year-old to somehow find a way to spark his team when it’s lifeless, and the Sharks were plainly flatlining after a horrible first period in which they trailed the lowly Coyotes by a pair.
“The first period was as poor as we could play,” Tommy Wingels said.
Cue the man who is still the inevitable future captain of the club. On the first shift of the second period, the top line winger took a short pass from Joe Thornton, and Pavelski’s attempted dish to Melker Karlsson ended up in the back of the net thanks to Ekman-Larsson trying to break it up in the slot. That got San Jose on the board.
Ekman-Larsson took exception to Wingels finishing his check on Connor Murphy later in the second, eliciting a roughing minor and giving San Jose a power play. Again, it was Pavelski, and his quick release high over Smith was his 30th goal of the season.
The Sharks were the better team in the second half of the game, securing an important victory that put the skids on a three-game losing streak.
To Todd McLellan, it was just another day at the office for Pavelski.
“I think I see him that [determined] every night, to tell you the truth,” said McLellan, who earned his 300th win as an NHL head coach. “There aren’t many nights where Pav doesn’t bring that emotion and that drive to the game.”
Wingels said: “You see him around the net, it’s incredible. He scores up top, tips, deflections, from in close, from out high. He can do it all. That’s a testament to his craft and how hard he works before and after practice. It doesn’t come overnight. It’s a lot of hard work put in over the years.”
The most important goal of the night wasn’t one of Pavelski’s, though. Rookie Barclay Goodrow broke a 2-2 tie with his fourth goal, unleashing a perfectly placed wrist shot over Mike Smith at 6:23 of the third period.
“I was looking for a pass,” Goodrow said of the play. “I think Smith thought I was going to pass it, too, and that kind of opened up the short side a little bit.”
The night wasn’t perfect, of course, as the Sharks’ putrid first period was baffling. Phoenix scored twice on two blatant San Jose errors, leading to an intermission was apparently an eventful one.
“There was a lot of soul searching between periods there,” Wingels said. “We talked about, what are we going to do as a team? What does each guy bring?”
As he’s done in the past, McLellan utilized the power of video to isolate some of the aspects of the Sharks’ game and some individual plays that were off the mark.
“Each individual really had to look at himself, at how he was or was not contributing in that period,” said the coach. “We made a number of mistakes. We saw some video clips between periods that we normally don’t see. It was pretty evident after that that we weren’t engaged enough or prepared enough, and didn’t execute enough to be in a game.”
The Sharks' team game could only go up from there. Thanks to Pavelski, it did, and it kept going up until the final horn.
Goodrow said: “He’s a good leader, he’s always in the right spot to get those goals, and we knew coming into the second period we’ve had to change the way we were playing, and he got it going.”
“Tonight it happened for us, and guys did a great job coming out in the second and reestablishing our game and what we needed to do,” Pavelski said. “We battled all the way back to win the game, and the two points right now, that was a big win for us.”