The San Jose Sharks (50-22-9, 109 points) defeated the Colorado Avalanche (52-22-7, 111 points) by the final score of 5-1 in their final home game of the regular season. Martin Havlat was the man of the hour with his natural hat trick and seems to finally be returning to form.
There was plenty to talk about this evening starting with Tomas Hertl’s much anticipated return to lineup. He played on the third line and had a good scoring chance early, but was unable to get on the score sheet. Still, he managed 15 minutes of ice-time and two shots on net as well as two penalty minutes late in the game.
The other big news this evening was the natural hat trick by Martin Havlat. His goals, all of which came within a span of 10 minutes in the third period, were a welcomed sight especially because he has been playing significantly better (at least to me anyway) since the Olympic break. Finally it seems things are coming together for him in what has been another injury-plagued season.
Lastly, Alex Stalock got the start in net tonight after a few rough outings by Antti Niemi. Stalock was sharp in net once again and finished with 32 saves, many of which came of the difficult variety. He made a few saves in particular that led to San Jose goals at the other end, so to say Stalock had an impact in net tonight is an understatement.
The San Jose Sharks were the first team to get on the board when just three minutes into the game Dan Boyle scored on what looked like a simple wrist shot from a tough angle yet was still able to get it by starter Reto Berra.
Later on Patrick Marleau would score on a slap shot from the high slot and just like that it was 2-0. That would also be the end of Berra’s night as he was pulled immediately following the goal.
In the second period the Avalanche would score a goal of their own on a Patrick Bordeleau one-timer. That pushed to game to within one and gave Colorado some life.
But, in the third period it became the Martin Havlat show and he started it off with a deflection goal. The original shot off the stick of Logan Couture following a great move to get to the slot from the boards. Havlat, who worked his way to the front of the net, was able to deflect the shot and give his team the 3-1 lead.
Eight minutes later Havlat struck again, this time on a breakaway. While on the breakaway he tried to go five-hole and was stopped but stayed with his shot and was able to put home the rebound over the outstretched leg of Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it a three-goal game.
Afterward Patrick Roy, in quite the unorthodox fashion, pulled his goaltender with over five minutes remaining in the game with his team down three. At first is seemed the Avalanche responded with the extra attacker because they generated quite a few great chances but Stalock once again stood strong. That’s when Havlat swooped in to finish the game off with an empty netter from the top of the faceoff circle putting the game away for good by making it 5-1.
In all a great all-around game for the Sharks who not only put up some goals but played well defensively and physically. From start to finish it was a bruising game with both sides getting their licks in. This was a much better showing than their two previous contests and hopefully they can continue it tomorrow evening in game number 82 of the regular season.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Martin Havlat (3 goals, 1 assist)
2. Logan Couture (3 assists)
3. Alex Stalock (32 saves)