ST. LOUIS -- Joe Pavelski leads the NHL in goals this postseason, but just as important as that total is when the San Jose Sharks' captain has scored those goals.
There was no greater example of that than in Game 5 of the Western Conference final Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Pavelski tied the game with a power-play goal with 1:27 to go in the second period and then broke the 3-3 tie with a redirection of a shot by Brent Burns just 16 seconds into the third period to send the Sharks to a 6-3 win and a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Sharks can earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win at home Wednesday night in game 6.
The two goals increased Pavelski's league-leading total to 12 goals in 17 games this postseason and exactly half of them have come in the games immediately following a Sharks loss.
Monday's win improved the Sharks' record in those six games to 5-1.
Coach Peter DeBoer said it's not an accident that Pavelski's game-winning goal came when he tipped the puck past goalie Jake Allen.
"His ability to get his stick on pucks in the offensive zone and in front of the net at different angles is as good as anybody I've ever seen," DeBoer said. "It's a great lesson because he works at it every day. He gets Burns or one of the other defensemen to fire 100 or 200 shots. He will get a piece of every single one.
"It's something he's worked at. He's obviously got some God-given ability too but his biggest asset is that he works at it."
Allen was aware that Pavelski was in front of the net and saw the play developing as Burns fired the shot, but there was little he could to keep it from going in the net.
"He's one of the best in the league in front of the net and he has been for the last five or six years," Allen said. "He gets his stick on everything and it's one of those deals where you just hope it hits you."
Allen also wasn't able to stop the power-play goal by Pavelski, which came off a pass from Joe Thornton while Kevin Shattenkirk was serving a minor hooking penalty. Shattenkirk also was in the box when Joel Ward scored a power-play goal earlier in the period.
"I think I was a little fortunate; it rolled and I was able to catch (Allen) leaning," Pavelski said. "You need those."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thought the power-play goal by Pavelski which tied the game was the most important goal of the game.
"I thought the killer goal was the third one," Hitchcock said. "We had the lead. We built some good shifts. They caught us on a little bit of a change. Took a penalty. We were really doing well killing the penalty, but we made two mistakes. ... I thought the energy on our bench, which was excellent, dropped a little bit after the third goal, not the fourth one. That was the difference."
The Blues twice had taken a one-goal lead only to see the Sharks tie the game with the power-play goals. Jaden Schwartz, Troy Brouwer and Robby Fabbri scored for the Blues, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored in the first period for the Sharks, who got empty net goals from Ward, his second goal of the game, and Chris Tierney.
Being one game from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final has not really sunk in yet for Pavelski,
"There's so many emotions throughout the playoffs," he said. "You just try to not get too high, not get too low. If we play a game like we did the other night, you just try to respond. If you play a good game like tonight you want to ride that, you want to stay with that."
NOTES: Both RW David Backes and LW Robby Fabbri were in the Blues' lineup for Game 5 despite having left Game 4 because of injuries. Backes suffered an upper-body injury and did not play after the first period, while Fabbri had a lower-body injury caused by a first-period hit and played sparingly after that. Both were cleared to play after the pregame warmup. ... The Blues scratched LW Scottie Upshall (upper body injury) for the third consecutive game. ... The Sharks did not make any lineup changes from Game 4. ... Monday night's game was the latest calendar date for a game in Blues' history. The previous latest game had been on May 21, 2001, the fifth and final game of the 2001 Western Conference final loss to Colorado.