Sharks boost playoff hopes, beating Bruins 2-1

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Daniel Winnik scored his first goal with San Jose to give the Sharks' playoff hopes a needed boost with a 2-1 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

Joe Pavelski scored early in the first period to let San Jose play from ahead and Winnik added insurance early in the third when he ended his 43-game drought without a goal as the Sharks showed much more life than they had in lackluster losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles earlier in the week. Antti Niemi made 16 saves.

The Bruins, coming off an 8-0 win Monday night against Toronto, didn't get on the board until Zdeno Chara scored with 4:15 remaining to cut the deficit to 2-1. They couldn't get any more and dropped their fourth straight road game -- their longest skid since December 2009. Boston remained three points ahead of idle Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead with one game in hand.

The Sharks had lost two straight and eight of 11 to put their playoff hopes in peril after making it all the way to the Western Conference finals the past two seasons. They began the night in 10th place in the conference, two points out of a playoff spot and three behind division leader Dallas. The win left them one point out of playoff position.