Posted March 27, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Joe Pavelski scored two goals in helping the San Jose Sharks improve their playoff chances with a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. San Jose jumped into the Pacific Division lead with 88 points after both the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars lost earlier on Monday. The Stars dropped all the way into a tie with Phoenix with 87 points for seventh and eighth place in the Western Conference. Andrew Desjardins, Torrey Mitchell and Ryane Clowe also scored for the Sharks, who won their third straight. Shane O'Brien scored for the Avalanche, who lost their third straight after going 7-1-1 in their previous nine games. Antti Niemi stopped 31 of 32 shots for the win while Semyon Varlamov had 31 saves. The Sharks scored three times in the second period to take the advantage. Pavelski made it 1-0 at 3:50 of the period following a faceoff. Pavelski had an open net after knocking in a rebound. Desjardins also got the bounce after a shot, getting a deflection off the bottom of Varlamov's pads to score at 9:19. Ryan O'Reilly delivered a nice crossing pass to O'Brien, who knocked it in to bring Colorado within 2-1 at 11:47 of the second. Mitchell fanned on his first attempt in front of the net, but Michal Handzus saved it behind the net and got it back to Mitchell, who scored to make it 3-1 at 15:44. Pavelski added a power-play goal 35 seconds into the third period for his 29th of the season and Clowe scored an empty-net goal. NOTES : Sharks D Dan Boyle had two assists and recorded his 500th career point. ... Sharks C Joe Thornton extended his point streak against the Avalanche to seven games. ... Pavelski's two goals gave him 300 points. ... O'Brien has three points in his past four games following a 12-game scoreless streak. ... Avalanche F Gabriel Landeskog had an assist and has five points in his past eight games. ... Colorado D Erik Johnson returned to the ice after missing three games with a back injury.
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