SAN JOSE– With one final quick stride, the defenseman moved to the inside edge of the blueline and managed to stop the attempted clear of theBostonzone by the Bruins.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s stickwork with 3:50 gone in the first period set the stage for the first goal of the game, a quick set of passes and shots involving all five San Jose Shark skaters.
Joe Pavelski’s 27th goal of the season at the 3:57 mark of the first period ignited a 2-1 victory by the Sharks over the visiting Bruins at sold-out HP Pavilion.
Daniel Winnik provided the game-winning goal in the third period, made necessary because Bruins captain Zdeno Chara scored in the closing 4:15 of the third period.
Vlasic was not credited with an assist on Pavelski’s goal, but the defensive hustle by the 24-year-old made the following seven seconds to success possible.
After Vlasic kept the puck inside the blueline, he dished it to defensive partner Dan Boyle. Joe Thornton was on the receiving end of Boyle’s pass at the endboards. The captain spun behind the Bruin net and found Patrick Marleau open at the top of the crease. Marleau’s quick shot was blocked aside by goaltender Tim Thomas, but Pavelski collected the rebound and shoved the puck inside the right post.
“Probably our most complete game in a long time,” said Thornton.
The win moved San Jose (84 points) to within two points of the two teams, Phoenix and Los Angeles, leading the Pacific Division with 86 points apiece. While Phoenix grabbed a 3-2 win over Colorado, Los Angeles topped St. Louis 1-0 in a shootout and Dallas remained at 85 with a 2-1 setback to Vancouver.
None of the teams involved in the struggle for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference play Friday. Action continues Saturday when the Kings host Boston, Colorado goes to Vancouver, Dallas visits Calgary and Phoenix comes toSan Jose.
San Jose rode the strong goaltending of Antti Niemi and an effective defense against the Boston rush through the neutral zone to maintain the 1-0 cushion entering the third period.
Winnik connected on his sixth goal of the season and first as a Shark with 2:17 gone in the third. The Sharks set off on a 3-on-2 rush when Bruin Tyler Seguin partially whiffed on a slapshot from the left point. Andrew Desjardins moved in to secure the puck and skate along the right boards as the 3-on-2 developed. As Pavelski moved down the middle of the ice, Desjardins dished the puck across the ice to Winnik. The forward worked to keep the puck flat on the ice before wristing a shot from the left dot that skimmed over Thomas’ right shoulder and inside the net for the deciding goal.
Chara converted his 11th goal of the season at 15:45 when he deflected a shot from the left goal line off a prone Niemi and into the net.
San Jose finished with a 27-17 edge in shots on net, Justin Braun pacing the winners with four.
Two weeks of scoreboard watching and the inevitable three-point games between rivals to create the final two spots in the Western Conference standings await the Sharks. San Jose has two games each left with Los Angeles, Dallas and the Coyotes, as well as single games with Colorado (Monday) and Anaheim (Wednesday).