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Pavelski's hat trick leads Sharks past Blues 5-3

Pavelski's hat trick leads Sharks past Blues 5-3

March 20th, 2011 by JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer in News

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Joe Pavelski had three goals and an assist for his first career hat trick Saturday and the San Jose Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3 on a night they might have lost one of their top scorers to an injury.

San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 lead less than 8 minutes in and thoroughly dominated the Blues. But there was more of a cause for concern than celebration when rookie Logan Couture had to be helped to the locker room early in the second period with an apparent right leg injury.

There was no immediate word on the extent of the injury, but Couture was unable to put any weight on his leg as teammates Ryane Clowe and Ben Eager helped him off the ice after his right skate slammed into the end boards 1:04 into the second.

Torry Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi also scored and Antti Niemi made 42 saves for the Sharks, who have won three straight following a three-game losing streak to move within two points of Detroit for second place in the Western Conference.

T.J. Hensick scored his first goal in more than 16 months and David Backes and Andy McDonald added third-period scores for the Blues, who had won four of six.

Much of the energy left the Shark Tank after Couture's injury. He has been one of San Jose's most consistent performers all season, with a franchise rookie record 27 goals, including eight game-winners.

Niemi and Pavelski helped make sure the Sharks didn't lose the game as well as Couture after Hensick got credit for his first goal since Nov. 8, 2009, when he kicked a puck off Douglas Murray's skate to cut San Jose's lead to 3-1.

Niemi came out with a couple of tough saves, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic cleared a puck off the goal line to preserve the two-goal lead. Setoguchi restored the three-goal advantage when his shot deflected off Blues defender Roman Polak and past Ty Conklin to make it 4-1.

Pavelski iced the game when he deflected Dan Boyle's shot into the net for his 100th career goal with 5.3 seconds remaining in the second period. Pavelski has four goals and eight assists in his last four games.

The Sharks played without coach Todd McLellan, who was in Saskatchewan for his brother-in-law's funeral. Assistant Trent Yawney ran the team in McLellan's absence.

San Jose got off to a fast start against a team looking to play spoiler in the Western Conference. The Sharks scored three goals in a span of less than 4 minutes in the opening period to knock out Jaroslav Halak two nights after he shut out another playoff contender in a 4-0 win at Los Angeles.

The Sharks' energetic third line got things started when Mitchell did a good job keeping the puck alive and then found himself in perfect position to knock a rebound of Pavelski's shot over a sprawling Halak to make it 1-0.

Halak was called for delay of game 31 seconds later and San Jose took advantage immediately. Pavelski won the draw and then tipped Patrick Marleau's point shot past Halak 11 seconds into the man advantage.

Pavelski finished the first-period onslaught with his own blast from the point on San Jose's second power play, ending Halak's night after less than 8 minutes of work.

Notes: San Jose won the season series 3-1. ... The Sharks have scored at least one power-play goal in a season-high seven straight games. ... Referee Dennis Larue was honored before the game for working his 1,000th regular-season game as an official.