The San Jose Sharks (24-13-7) defeated the Minnesota Wild (24-17-3) by the final of 6-1 in an offensive explosion. The win is a huge one as far as the playoffs are concerened even though they do not move in the standings.
Unfortunately for the Wild though the St. Louis Blues won their game in a shootout this evening meaning the two teams flip spots putting the Blues in sixth and the Wild in seventh.
A little earlier the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets meaning the Sharks and Kings stay even in points and at the same time put even more distance between themselves and the ninth seed in the conference.
This evening’s game was a dominating performance from a Sharks team that is looking as good as is has all year, and at exactly the right time.
The Sharks struck first when Martin Havlat scored his sixth goal of the season with a little bit of luck. He threw the puck into the slot in the direction of Joe Pavelski and got a lucky bounce as the puck went off of Mikko Koivu’s stick in through the wickets of his own goaltender. Just like that the Sharks were up 1-0.
One stat that stood out in the first period was the difference in faceoff wins. San Jose won in that department 18-9 which probably played a role in San Jose coming out with the lead from the first period. It also could have contributed to the +5 shot differential San Jose owned for the period.
In the second period San Jose struck again, this time on the power play, when Logan Couture scored his 18th goal of the season. His goal came off of a beautiful tic-tac-toe play that saw Patrick Marleau take a pass from Joe Thornton and feed Couture with a one-touch pass who was waiting in the slot. Couture’s one-timer was perfectly placed and the goal put San Jose up 2-0.
Staying in character after being up 2-0 the Sharks allowed the Wild to cut the lead in half when Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored on a breakaway that was the result of a bad line change. He made a great move from his forehand to his backhand to beat Antti Niemi.
Later on in the period however the Sharks regained their two-goal lead on Havlat’s second goal of the night. He was the benefactor of a great play by Couture who leapt to knock down a clearing attempt by Niklas Backstrom. Couture was able to glove the puck and then proceeded to feed it to Havlat who was right in front of the open net. All he had to do was bury the puck and with that the Sharks a 3-1 lead going into the dressing room.
In the third period it was all San Jose with goals by Raffi Torres, Joe Pavelski and Couture. Torres’ goal (first as a Shark) came on a great individual effort and finished the play with a wrap-around goal. Pavelski got a lucky bounce and with the puck on his stick in the slot fired the shot by the Wild netminder. Both those goals were a mere 22 seconds apart.
After the Pavelski goal Backstrom was chased from his crease and was done for the night. After that both teams were pretty much going through the motions and waiting for the game to end. Also the game got a little chippy at the end with Scott Gomez and Kyle Brodziak getting ten minute misconducts though no fights were had this evening. In the end the Sharks got the 6-1 victory.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Logan Couture (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Martin Havlat (2 goals, 1 assist)
3. Raffi Torres (1 goal, 1 assist)