San Jose Sharks' Ryane Clove hits Anaheim Ducks' Bryan Allen during a fight in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, March 27, 2013 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)
SAN JOSE, Calif. - With time running out on their season, the San Jose Sharks wanted to get off to a fast start to a crucial homestand that could determine whether they make it back to the playoffs.
Joe Pavelski scored a minute into the game to start a three-goal first period spree, Antti Niemi earned his second shutout of the season and the Sharks swept a home-and-home against first-place Anaheim by beating the Ducks 4-0 on Wednesday night.
"We were crisp," captain Joe Thornton said. "We know we got to win some games to get to post-season. Every game is going to be so important. We looked sharp early on. It paid off for us."
Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns also scored in the opening 10 minutes and Niemi made 22 saves for the Sharks, who have back-to-back regulation wins for the first time in two months.
Tommy Wingels added a short-handed goal and two assists to get San Jose off to a strong start to a crucial seven-game homestand. The Sharks moved into a tie for seventh place with St. Louis in the Western Conference.
"It's been a long time," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "We're here at home for six more. We have to make a move. We have to win some games in regulation preferably. It was a good start tonight."
The Ducks followed up a 5-3 home loss to the Sharks by coming out completely flat in the return game. Anaheim has lost four straight games in regulation following a 12-game streak with at least one point. This is the Ducks' longest skid since Bruce Boudreau took over as coach Nov. 30, 2011.
"It's all about work," defenceman Francois Beauchemin said. "We're not working hard enough and we're not winning the battles. It shows on the ice. Hockey is not that complicated. You have to win the battles and work harder than the other guys. We have to use our off days to get back to basics, work on the details. We all want to get out of this."
The losing streak follows an emotional win over Chicago last Wednesday in a matchup of the top two teams in the West. Anaheim followed that with consecutive losses to Detroit and the sweep by San Jose, getting outscored 16-5 in the losses.
The Ducks now must travel to Chicago for a rematch with the Blackhawks on Friday night. Instead of getting a day off Thursday after a long flight, Anaheim will now practice in Chicago to try to get out of this funk. The Ducks have been outscored 9-1 in the first period of the four losses.
"You can't get behind 2-0, 3-0, in the first period consistently and expect to win. It catches up to you," Boudreau said. "Every team in the NHL sees this and knows 'let's get the Ducks in the first five minutes, they're not ready.' We were a 20-man team when we were successful. We can't do it with 10-12 guys and the rest going through the motions."
The Sharks jumped on top early with nine shots, three goals, two power plays and one fight before the Ducks could manage their first shot on net against Niemi.
Pavelski, who had just one goal in 18 games before scoring Monday, struck again just 1 minute into this game when he beat Hiller on a wraparound. Pavelski was on a new line with TJ Galiardi and Ryane Clowe, back after missing four games with a shoulder injury.
"Anaheim is a very, very good team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Their last little streak here they've been on their heels a little bit to begin games, and we knew we had to get after them right off the bat. I think that first shift that Pav had scoring set the tone for the next 10 minutes. We took advantage of it."
Clowe, the subject of trade talks despite having no goals in 25 games, helped set up Pavelski's ninth goal and then fired up the crowd even more with his fight against Anaheim defender Bryan Allen.
San Jose added to the lead when Logan Couture did a good job keeping possession in the offensive zone and then found Marleau alone in the circle for a one-timer that beat Hiller for his 16th goal.
Wingels then set up San Jose's third goal, drawing a holding penalty from Sheldon Souray to lead to a power play and then finding Burns alone for a blast that made it 3-0 just 9:20 into the game, leading to a timeout by Boudreau.
NOTES: Boyle fought Anaheim's Corey Perry in the third period in retaliation for a punch Perry threw behind the play on Wingels' goal. ... The Sharks won three of five games in the season series. ... Burns' goal was the only one on the power play for either team this season. The Ducks failed on all 15 chances and the Sharks went 1-for-19. ... Burns has nine points in eight games since moving to forward. ... RW Radek Dvorak was added to the Anaheim roster after getting his work visa and played his first game with the Ducks.
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