All the time Joe Pavelski has spent practicing his stick work has paid off big for the San Jose Sharks.
And the Sharks captain has his team on the brink of its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
“You think back to some of the best scorers ever, his ability to get his stick on pucks in front of the net from different angles is as good as anybody I’ve ever seen,” Coach Peter DeBoer said. “His biggest asset is he works at it.”
With San Jose trailing by a goal Monday night, Pavelski tied the score late in the second period and then scored the go-ahead goal in the opening minute of the third period in the Sharks’ 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues for a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
“You play a good game like that, you want to ride that,” Pavelski said. “Everyone’s played a key role so far and it’s going to have to continue.”
Joel Ward also scored twice, including one of two empty-netters, in the final minute for San Jose, which can close out the series at home Wednesday night. Joe Thornton had three assists.
Pavelski leads all players in the playoffs with 12 goals and has three two-goal games, one in each series. The Sharks captain added an assist and is tied with teammate Logan Couture for the postseason points lead, each with a franchise-record 21 points.
Rookie Robby Fabbri scored and David Backes had an assist for St. Louis. Both were questionable coming off injuries in Game 4.
But star forward Vladimir Tarasenko was silent again. Tarasenko was minus-2 with one shot and is scoreless in the series after getting seven goals and 13 points in the first two rounds.
The Sharks were two for three on the power play after entering two for 15 in the series.
Pavelski was left alone in the slot on a power play at 18 minutes 33 seconds of the second and beat Jake Allen to tie it at 3-3. He redirected Brent Burns’ drive from the point 16 seconds into the third to put the Sharks in front to stay.
San Jose goalie Martin Jones allowed three goals on the Blues’ first 13 shots, but stopped all seven shots in the third period. Blues goalie Jake Allen made 21 saves.