SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski’s late score was the difference in a thrilling 4-3 Sharks win at SAP Center on Saturday afternoon.
Pavelski took an offensive zone faceoff win by Joe Thornton and fluttered in a wrist shot from the high slot with 1:24 to go in regulation to extend the Sharks’ point streak to eight games (7-0-1). It was his team-leading 23rd of the year.
San Jose (25-18-3, 53 points) improved to 4-0-1 in its last five at home. The Sharks are in sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division, eight points behind the Kings, who play in Arizona on Saturday night and visit the Sharks on Sunday.
Minnesota (23-17-8, 54 points), which closed out a four-game road trip, has lost five of its last six.
Joel Ward helped create both Sharks goals in the second period, as they changed a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead after the middle frame.
On the power play, Ward found Joonas Donskoi with a pass through the seam that Donskoi one-timed past Darcy Kuemper at 12:20 for his third goal in the last eight games.
A minute-and-a-half later, Ward, Donskoi and Couture skated ahead on an odd-man rush. Donskoi missed what looked to be a wide open net on a dish from Couture, but Couture stayed with the loose puck and pushed it to Ward, who managed to swipe in a backhand at 13:58 for his 14th score.
Minnesota re-tied it at 12:10 of the third period. Jarret Stoll got position on Brent Burns to whack in the rebound of a Jonas Brodin shot at 12:10 to knot the score at 3-3.
Kuemper, who shut out the Sharks on Dec. 12 at SAP Center, allowed the opening goal just 1:33 into the game. Tomas Hertl managed to bank it in off of the goaltender after some sustained pressure by San Jose’s top line.
Minnesota responded with a pair of goals before the first intermission. A point shot by Marco Scandella hit Chris Porter’s skate in front of the net when the fourth line forward got position on Dylan DeMelo, and Porter stayed with the disc to flip it home at the 13-minute mark.
Former Sharks first round draft pick Charlie Coyle put the Wild ahead 2-1 in the final minute of the opening frame, poking in a loose puck that clanged off the post on a shot from high in the zone by Jared Spurgeon.
The Sharks and Wild close out their three-game season series on April 5 at Xcel Energy Center.
The Sharks are 15-2-1 in their last 18 home games against the Wild.
The Sharks and Wild each went 1-for-3 on the power play. San Jose is 6-for-24 with a man advantage over the last eight games, but has allowed six power play goals-against in 18 chances over that span.
The Wild entered the afternoon just 2-for-34 on the power play in their previous 17 games.
Jones made his fourth start in the last five games, and improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven starts with 25 saves.
Wild All-Star Devan Dubnyk had his second straight game off, as Kuemper was coming off of a shutout in Los Angeles on Thursday. He allowed four Sharks goals on 33 shots.
Thornton extended his point streak to eight games, with a pair of assists. He has at least one point in 16 of his last 17 (5g, 17a).
Wild forward Jason Pominville played in his 800th career game.
In a rare back-to-back at home the Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. San Jose has won two of the first three head-to-head meetings with its main rival, including a 5-3 triumph in the final game before the Christmas break at Staples Center on Dec. 22.