SAN JOSE — Joe Pavelski scored two goals to extend his run of strong play and the San Jose Sharks beat Jimmy Howard for the ninth straight time in the regular season with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Dan Boyle and Andrew Desjardins also scored for the Sharks, who bounced back after losing two of three on a recent road trip. Antti Niemi made 24 saves to beat the Red Wings for the fourth straight time with just three goals allowed in that span.
Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Red Wings, who began a tough three-game California swing with a loss. Detroit follows up this game with weekend visits to Los Angeles and Anaheim. The three California teams have just six regulation losses in 63 home games this season.
Howard made 19 saves but allowed three goals in the second period to end his night and extend his struggles against the Sharks, who haven’t lost to him in the regular season in more than three years. San Jose’s 10 regular-season wins against Howard are the second-most for any team, trailing only Chicago’s 12.
Howard allowed two soft goals in the second period to help the Sharks break open a close game. The onslaught started when Desjardins skated into the offensive zone and beat Howard to the short side from a bad angle for his second goal of the season to make it 2-1.
Pavelski added to the lead when he knocked in the rebound of Brad Stuart’s shot, giving him 12 goals in his last 15 games. It was Pavelski’s 22nd career two-goal game, but he is still seeking his first career hat trick.
Boyle added to the lead on a power play when he beat Howard with a wrist shot from the circle that made it 4-1. Boyle, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture were among the Sharks in consideration for the Canadian Olympic coached by Detroit’s Mike Babcock who were left off the roster this week.
Thornton had two assists, giving him 14 in his last 10 games and a league-leading 45 on the season, while Couture is out for a few weeks with a hand injury.
The game got testy in the third period, starting with a fight between San Jose’s Tyler Kennedy and Kyle Quincey. There was another scrum that ended with Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi throwing his helmet at Tommy Wingels and then a later one between San Jose’s Scott Hannan and Dan Cleary.
The teams traded goals in the first period with the Sharks striking fist when Thornton carried the puck into the offensive zone and waited patiently for Pavelski to break free of Henrik Zetterberg. Thornton then threaded a perfect pass into the slot that Pavelski one-timed past Howard for his 20th goal.
The Red Wings answered late in the period when Tatar held the puck behind the net while Marc-Edouard Vlasic was without his stick. Tatar then skated in front and lifted a backhand past Niemi.
NOTES: The Sharks got Wingels (upper body) and Kennedy (flu) back in the lineup and sent F Freddie Hamilton back to the minors. ... San Jose also recalled D Matt Tennyson from Worcester as insurance with D Matt Irwin out with an upper-body injury. ... D Danny DeKeyser (groin) returned to the lineup for Detroit, but Fs Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Darren Helm (groin) remain sidelined.