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Couture and Havlat roll Wild
Duo combines for 4 goals and 3 assists
4/18/13 - By Mike Lee -

As Spring temperatures begin to rise in San Jose, the goals came in buckets on Thursday night, as the Sharks rolled the Minnesota Wild 6-1 at HP Pavilion. With the end of the regular season looming, both teams were looking to grind out points as they head down the home stretch. The Sharks win created some separation between the two teams, who now sit 4 points apart in the Western Conference standings.

With Los Angeles also winning on Thursday, the Sharks remain in 5th place in the west. Both the Sharks and Kings have 53 points, but Los Angeles holds the tie-breaker with more regular season wins. The Wild hold the 7th seed, just two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

San Jose never trailed, scoring a lone goal in the 1st period, a pair in the 2nd and three more in the 3rd period.

Martin Havlat teamed up with his former linemate Mikko Koivu to open the game's scoring at 7:42 of the 1st period. Havlat carried a puck across the Wild blueline on the right wing, then tried to center a puck to Joe Pavelski who was cutting in on net from the off wing. Koivu tried to intercept the pass, but ended up redirecting past his own goaltender, Niklas Backstrom.

Defenseman Clayton Stoner was sent off early in the 2nd period for holding Havlat on his way to the net, putting the Sharks on the power play for the game's first penalty. San Jose converted on one of the prettiest passing sequences of the season, when Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture played tic-tac-toe with the puck in the Wild zone. The textbook example of puck movement ended with Couture one-timing a shot past Backstrom for the 2-0 Sharks lead.

The Sharks defense let Pierre-Marc Bouchard slip past them four minutes later, after Jason Pominville sent a log feed up the middle of the ice. Bouchard raced up ice and put a backhand shot top shelf past Antti Niemi to cut San Jose's lead in half. San Jose had allowed Pominville to challenge Niemi with a breakaway earlier in the game, but the Sharks netminder stoned the newly acquired winger. He wasn't so lucky with Bouchard.

Couture channeled his inner Joe Carter, scaling the outfield wall at SkyDome to knock a puck down along the end boards behind the Wild net at 14:32. Couture then sent a backhand pass to Havlat in the slot for the easy open net goal to make it a 3-1 game. Backstrom was tracking the puck as it was being played behind his goal, leaving the crease and the goal mouth wide open for Havlat's 2nd tally of the night.

Still warming to Sharks fans, Raffi Torres took another step in the right direction by scoring his 1st goal in teal at 3:59 of the 3rd period, then added an assist on a Joe Pavelski goal 22 seconds later. The former Public Enemy #1 in San Jose took a Pavelski feed along the left wing boards then swooped around the back of the net to tuck a shot around the right post for a pretty wraparound tally.

A Torres shot attempt on the very next shift bounced off a Wild stick and caromed to Pavelski in the slot for the easy deposit. The goal was Pavleski's 14th of the season, and it would end Backstrom's night. The Wild netminder surrendered five goals on 27 shots.

Havlat tacked on an assist for good measure midway through the period, when he slid a centering pass to Couture in the slot. Couture put the puck in the upper right corner, scoring on the first shot replacement goaltender Darcy Kuemper faced.

The three goals San Jose put past Minnesota's goalie tandem came on only 5 shots in the period.

Havlat's 3-point night was the most he has scored in a game for San Jose.

Minnesota refrained from any chippiness, which was a big question entering the contest. Marc-Edouard Vlasic's skirmish with former Sharks forward Dany Heatley ten days ago ended with Heatley injuring himself after he fell to the ice and partially separated his shoulder. Kyle Clutterbuck and Scott Gomez mixed it up late in the game, but the linesmen separated the two then promptly sent them to the locker room before tempers flared.

Game Notes:

Defenseman Scott Hannan was scratched after making his season debut for San Jose on Tuesday night against Los Angeles. Hannan is still nursing a gimpy knee.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MIN 0 1 0 1
SJ 1 2 3 6
1st period - 1, SJ, Havlat 6 (Couture, Marleau), 7:42.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Couture 18 (Marleau, Thornton), 5:29, (pp). 3, MIN, Bouchard 7 (Pomminville, Gilbert),9:44. 4, SJ, Havlat 7 (Couture), 14:32.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Torres 6 (Pavelski), 3:59. 6, SJ, Pavelski 14 (Torres, Demers), 4:21. 7, SJ, Couture 19 (Havlat), 9:15.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Stoner, MIN (holding), 4:25.
3rd period - Brodziak, MIN (roughing), 17:34; Brodziak, MIN (10 min misconduct) 17:34; Gomez, SJ (roughing), 17:34; Gomez, SJ (10 min misconduct), 17:34.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MIN - Backstrom 27 22
MIN - Kuemper 2 1
SJ - Niemi 16 15
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 7 9 12 28
SJ 12 12 5 29
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 0
SJ 1 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Martin Havlat
Raffi Torres
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Jackson, LaRue. Linesmen: Pancich, Sharrers.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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