San Jose, CA – Antti Niemi made 22 saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season and lift the San Jose Sharks over the Dallas Stars, 3-0, in the opener of a home-and-home series on Saturday.
The win moved the Sharks into the eighth and final playoff spot of the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Stars, with the teams set to meet again in Dallas on Tuesday.
With 90 points, San Jose sits one behind both Los Angeles and Phoenix for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Joe Pavelski scored twice while Jason Demers also lit the lamp as the Sharks snapped a two-game slide.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31-of-34 shots in the Stars' third loss in four games.
Pavelski gave the Sharks all the offense they would need just 58 seconds into the contest with a one-timer from the slot past Lehtonen's stick side.
San Jose then added to its lead with 1:22 left in the first period while on the power play when Martin Havlat saucered a cross-ice pass from the right corner to Demers at the left of the net and he one-timed it into the twine.
Pavelski's second goal made it a 3-0 game at the 9:39 mark of the second period with a redirection of a Marc-Edouard Vlasic wrister from the high slot.
Niemi made six saves in the first period and eight apiece in the second and third to record his 19th career shutout.
Dallas and San Jose both have three games left in the regular season...The Sharks close out the year with consecutive games against Los Angeles...San Jose went 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Stars were 0-for-3 on the man advantage.