The Sharks hope a tight win against a division rival will re-establish them as one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
San Jose snapped a five-game losing streak, its longest in nearly two seasons, on Thursday against Anaheim and held on to beat the Stars for the eighth time in nine games in Dallas.
"Those are big-point games against division opponents," Marleau said. "We were coming off some bad losses. This is a start."
Marleau scored late in the second and followed with his 23rd goal of the season early in the third. Pavelski's goal broke a scoreless tie midway through the second, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 36 shots.
The division-leading Sharks have 49 points and are tied with Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Sharks had lost twice to the Stars earlier this season in San Jose, including one in an 11-round shootout on Dec. 11.
"They came out and won that shootout against us," said San Jose left wing Dany Heatley, who had two assists. "So it's nice to come in and win one in their building."
Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson each had goals in the third period for the Stars. Marty Turco turned away 28 shots.
At one point, Dallas had 14 more shots on goal than San Jose and a 30-18 edge through two periods. The Stars, however, trailed 2-0 before starting their comeback in the third.
"We had some quality chances and their goalie played well," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "The good thing is we battled until the end. We never really gave up in that game and that's a positive sign."
Nabokov stopped 30 shots through two periods. He lost the shutout on Benn's goal 18 seconds into the third.
Marleau gave San Jose a 3-1 advantage at 2:43 of the third with a shot from the top of the left circle. He has nine goals in his past 10 games.
The Stars crept within 3-2 at 5:38 when a shot hit Eriksson's left skate and rolled into the net.
The Sharks added an empty-net goal in the final minute when Stars defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy lost possession of the puck and it slid into his own net. Ryane Clowe was credited with the goal.
It was a scoreless tie until midway in the second. That's about the time San Jose coach Todd McLellan reunited the line of Marleau, Heatley and Joe Thornton.
That trio was on the ice for two of the team's first three scores.
"We wanted to shake some things up," McLellan said. "Putting them back together was a natural."
The Sharks took the early lead when Clowe made a centering pass to Pavelski, who poked the puck past Turco to give San Jose a 1-0 lead 9:43 into the second.
Marleau scored with 1:59 left in the second to put San Jose ahead 2-0.
Thornton recorded an assist on Marleau's first goal. He has 49 points this season.
NOTES: Dallas RW Jere Lehtinen (groin) was scratched from the lineup. He is questionable for Wednesday's game against Columbus. ... The Sharks recalled LW Jamie McGinn and LW Frazer McLaren from Worcester of the AHL and both were in the lineup. ... The Stars placed D Mark Fistric on injured reserve with a head injury and recalled Vishnevskiy from their AHL affiliate. The move was retroactive to Thursday, when Fistric was injured against Atlanta. ... PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang attended the game.