It took the entire first period for the Sharks, playing in the second of a back-to-back, to get their legs moving against a dreadful Edmonton Oilers team.
Fortunately for them, the power play was running on all cylinders, a rarity for the club since the calendar flipped to 2014. Joe Pavelski recorded his third hat trick this season, and the power play struck for three goals in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Tuesday.
[RELATED: Burish leaves game vs. Oilers with injury]
San Jose, whose power play percentage had fallen to 23rd in the NHL headed into Tuesday’s game, scored multiple power play goals for the first time since Dec. 31, 33 games ago.
The Sharks moved four points ahead of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, although the Ducks have three games in hand.
San Jose trailed 1-0 on David Perron’s first period goal, but a pair of power play goals turned that into a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Pavelski ended a seven-game goal drought to tie it, pouncing on a Patrick Marleau rebound at 6:28 with Ryan Smyth off for holding.
Another holding penalty, this one to Andrew Ference, put the Sharks back on a man advantage two minutes later. A long shift by the top unit eventually resulted in a shot attempt by Brent Burns, who took the place of an injured Logan Couture. The shot was blocked, but Pavelski managed to get the loose puck to an open Marleau, who released a laser past Ben Scrivens at 9:57.
A late goal by Marty Havlat gave San Jose a three-goal cushion at the break. On a two-on-one with Tommy Wingels, Havlat jammed a quick, low wrist shot inside the near post with half a minute remaining in the middle frame.
Havlat, who was scratched from the lineup for two games after the trade deadline, has five goals in his last 10 games.
Pavelski’s two third period goals put the game away. The forward had all day to receive a pass from Dan Boyle on another power play early in the final frame, and flipped it high over Scrivens at 1:17. He completed the hat trick on a rip from the slot with seven minutes left in the third.
Taylor Hall’s marker made it 5-2 at 14:56, much too late for the Oilers to pose any real threat to get back into it.
After being termed as “fine” by coach Todd McLellan after Monday’s game in Calgary after he left early from blocking a shot, Couture did not play. The Sharks improved to 11-7-0 when the second line center, who missed 16 games before the Olympic break with a fractured hand, does not play.
The Sharks host the Oilers on April 1 to close out the season series. They have won three of the first four.
Edmonton was playing for the first time since losing 8-1 to Calgary on Saturday.
The Sharks tallied on the only three power plays they had in the game, and have now scored five power play goals in their last five games. In their previous 19 games, they had just three.
The Sharks had three power play goals in a game in three previous games this season, the most recent on Dec. 12 vs. Minnesota.
Edmonton was 0-for-2. The Sharks have killed off 24 of the last 25 opponent power plays in the last 10 games.
Antti Niemi made 28 saves in his league-leading 36th win. Although Perron’s goal may have been stoppable, the goaltender kept it a 1-0 game in the first period with key saves on Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle.
Scrivens was facing the Sharks for the first time since his record-setting 59-save shutout on Jan. 29, allowing all five shots on 34 shots.
Pavelski’s 37 goals tie him with Corey Perry for second in the NHL, trailing only Alex Ovechkin (48).
Adam Burish left the game in the second period after blocking a shot on the penalty kill with what looked to be his left hand. He did not return.
San Jose returns home to host Winnipeg on Thursday, and visits Colorado on Saturday afternoon to close out the week.
The Sharks have eight games remaining, five of which are at home, where they are 26-5-5.