DENVER (AP) — Joe Pavelski scored two power-play goals in the second period and Antero Niittymaki made 29 saves, helping the scuffling San Jose Sharks to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Scott Nichol had a goal, and Logan Couture added an empty-netter for the Sharks, who won for the first time this season on North American ice. San Jose had gone three games without a victory since opening the season with a victory in Stockholm, Sweden.
Kyle Cumiskey and Milan Hejduk scored for the Avalanche as they returned home following a 10-day road swing in which they finished 3-2.
Niittymaki was solid all night for San Jose filling in for fellow Finnish goalie Antti Niemi. The performance may have earned Niittymaki more playing time, especially with Niemi off to a rocky start.
Niemi, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title last season, has surrendered nine goals in two starts.
The power play for the Sharks clicked, especially the Pavelski line. Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau had assists on both of Pavelski’s goals, his first two of the season.
One came on a 5-on-3 advantage with Kevin Porter and T.J. Galiardi in the penalty box. The Avalanche were able to kill the second half, keeping it a 3-1 game.
Hejduk cut the lead to a goal during a power play early in the third period. John-Michael Liles had an assist on the play, giving him at least one in all seven games, a franchise record to start a season.
But the Sharks iced the game on Couture’s goal from the center line with goalie Craig Anderson on the bench with 1:12 remaining. Just before Couture’s shot, the puck struck either a linesman or a player on the San Jose bench, drawing the ire of the Avalanche.
Anderson turned back 30 shots. He did the same thing throughout a hotly contested playoff series last spring in which the Sharks won in six games.
Before this game, Sharks captain Joe Thornton said his team needed to bring their “grade-A scoring chances” to sneak anything past Anderson.
Colorado went with seven defensemen, but lost 39-year-old captain Adam Foote to a head injury after the first period. It wasn’t clear how Foote was hurt.
About the only mistake Niittymaki made was when he attempted to play a bouncing puck behind the net in the opening period, setting up Cumiskey’s goal on a slap shot.
Colorado’s early lead didn’t last as the Sharks, who had been swarming all period, tied it with 48.1 seconds remaining. Nichol redirected a rolling puck past Anderson on a pass from Jamal Mayers across the crease. It was Nichol’s first goal.
Notes: Colorado F Brandon Yip was back after missing two games because of a groin injury. … Avalanche RW David Jones sat out with a bruised forearm. … Colorado recalled F David Van Der Gulik from Lake Erie of the AHL. Van Der Gulik didn’t play. … Sharks LW John McCarthy had his first NHL assist.
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