SAN JOSE -– There was no pre-All Star break sag for the San Jose Sharks, who completed the unofficial first half of their season with a decisive 6-1 victory over a previously hot Colorado Avalanche team at SAP Center on Tuesday.
The Sharks (26-18-4, 56 points) go into the weeklong respite with an 8-0-2 mark in their last 10 games, and a firmer grip on second place in the Pacific Division. They are three points up on the Coyotes and five on the surging Ducks.
Colorado had won four straight and had given up just one goal in each of its four wins before Tuesday.
Melker Karlsson put the Sharks ahead early, getting the shaft of his stick on a Brent Burns floater from the point at 6:19 of the first period. It was Karlsson’s second in the last 13 games, and the second goal from the Sharks’ fourth line in the last four games.
Some Colorado sloppiness led to the Sharks’ second goal, when Erik Johnson turned the puck over to Joe Pavelski in the neutral zone. The Sharks captain quickly transitioned the other way, and after Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot got to the front of the net, Tomas Hertl managed to corral the loose disc and slide it behind Calvin Pickard for his sixth goal in the last 10 games at 10:13.
In the second period, consecutive minor penalties to Andreas Martinsen and Francois Beauchemin on the ensuing power play gave the Sharks a two-man advantage for more than a minute, and they took full advantage.
Joe Pavelski’s team-leading 25th goal, an easy conversion after a pass through the slot by Joe Thornton, increased the Sharks’ lead to 3-0 at 15:28.
It was also Thornton’s 1300th career point, as he became just the 33rd player in NHL history to reach that mark. He also had the secondary assist on Hertl’s goal, finishing the night with two helpers and increasing his point-streak to 10 games (2g, 12a).
Joel Ward’s 15th goal came 50 seconds later, when the big forward crashed the net and had a rattling puck deflect off of his shin and into the cage.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy started pulling his goalie frequently at that point, including on a four-on-four stretch with 38 seconds to go in the second period. It finally cost him when Paul Martin flipped in an empty net goal from behind center ice with 11:39 to go in regulation.
Nathan MacKinnon ruined Martin Jones’ shutout bid with 8:25 to go in the third on a one-timer from the high slot on a power play, but Dylan DeMelo scored a power play goal in the final minute to cap the scoring. It was DeMelo’s first career NHL goal.
The Sharks have won two of the first three games of the season series, as Colorado is the only Central Division team they play four times. They meet again on Feb. 24 in Denver.
The Sharks have earned a point against Colorado in 24 of the last 28 meetings (20-4-4). They have won five of the last six (5-1-0).
After giving up a season-high four power play goals to the Avalanche in a 6-3 loss on Dec. 28, the Sharks allowed one goal on five Colorado chances.
San Jose finished 3-for-5 on the power play, and is 19-for-63 since Dec. 17 (30.1 percent).
Jones was making his fourth-straight start and sixth in the last seven games. He made 21 saves, including eating up a dangerous Jarome Iginla shot in the high slot early in the second period with San Jose up 2-0.
Pickard, who missed the morning skate due to an illness, took the loss with four goals against on 20 shots. Rookie Roman Will played in the third period, making his NHL debut, as starter Semyon Varlamov was reportedly back in Colorado to deal with a legal matter. Will stopped two of three shots.
Thornton’s 10-game point streak is the third longest in the NHL this season (Patrick Kane, 26 games; Patrick Sharp, 12 games). He has at least one point in 18 of his last 19 games (5g, 20a).
Dainius Zubrus returned after missing nine games with an upper body injury. Mike Brown was scratched.
Joonas Donskoi’s point-streak ended at five games.
The Sharks kick off the second half on Feb. 2 in Anaheim, the start of a challenging four-game road trip that continues to St. Louis, Nashville and Chicago. They are not home again until Feb. 11 against Calgary.