On Fan Appreciation Night, San Jose Sharks fans would finally got a chance to appreciate Martin Havlat.
Havlat scored a natural hat trick in the third period while Alex Stalock made 32 saves to lead the Sharks to a 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. This game marked the Sharks final regular season home game for Team Teal who will end their 2013-14 regular season in Phoenix Saturday night.
In a game where many thought the Sharks may go conservative and rest some regulars before the start of the playoffs next week, Team Teal came out and took to this contest as if it were a playoff game. Tomas Hertl also made his first appearance in a game in four months after missing a good portion of the season with a knee injury suffered back on December 19th vs the LA Kings. The Avalanche came into the game with more to play for than the Sharks however just did not seem to match the Team Teal intensity early on. Logan Couture also had a strong game with three assists.
It would be the Sharks who would get the early jump as Dan Boyle put Team Teal ahead just over three minutes into the game. Boyle’s wrist shot from the right point found the top of the net past Colorado starting goalie Reto Berra.
As it turned out, Berra’s evening would be both short and unbearable, especially for Avs coach Patrick Roy. Berra would see only five shots on goal from the Sharks on the evening. The fifth shot on goal was Patrick Marleau’s blast from the blue line that beat Berra dead to rights. Marleau’s 33rd goal of the season gave the Sharks a two goal lead at the 10:11 mark of the opening period, and sent Berra to the showers early. Former Anaheim Duck goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, no stranger to the Sharks, would enter the game. The Avs in the opening period would actually outshoot the Sharks 11-7 however Stalock was ready to play and did not allow any rubber to get past him.
Throughout the game there was a lot of heavy hitting and a degree of chipiness that carried on all evening. There were several body checks and hard hits that gave the contest the flavor of a post season match.
The Avalanche led in the “hits” category; however, this was due largely to the Sharks taking charge on the ice as a team and being able to play solid defense throughout while protecting the puck. The Sharks were able to keep the Avs at bay largely in part to a combination of disrupting both passing and shooting lanes while Stalock was completely locked in on his assignment. Colorado managed to get a puck past Stalock with 4:42 remaining in the middle period when Patrick Bordeleau took a perfect feed pass from Maxime Talbot and wrist the rubber into the far right corner of the net. Stalock reached for the puck but just could not come away with it.
The Sharks and Avs, early in the final period, traded scoring chances with each goalie making key saves.
The Sharks would get several pucks on or towards the net in the second period and early in the third, but their old nemeses Giguere was more than up for the challenge keeping the Avs in the game. This changed over five minutes into the final period as Team Teal behind Havlat took control of the contest and never looked back. With the Sharks in possession of the puck in the Avs zone, Marleau handed the rubber biscuit off to Couture, who was able to skate with it towards the front of the Colorado goal.
Couture’s shot found Havlat’s stick and deflected past Giguere into the back of the net to put San Jose back up by two. Havlat, moments later would take advantage of a Colorado turnover in the neutral zone as he broke away from two Avs and had a one on one contest with Giguere. The first shot by Havlat was saved by the Avs netminder. However Giguere was not able to control the rebound which went directly back to Havlat. With the puck back on his stick Havlat flicked the rebound past Giguere to put Team Teal up 4-1. With just over five minutes remaining in the contest Avs Head Coach Roy decided to go for broke down three and pulled Giguere for an extra attacker. This move would backfire as Havlat would get another break away along the left point and was able to deposit the puck into the abandoned net.
And Then There Was One
The regular season ends for Team Teal Saturday night as they take on the Coyotes in Phoenix. The Coyotes were eliminated from playoff contention Friday night even though they didn’t play. The Sharks cannot gain or lose position as they are locked into second place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks could approach this contest just looking to get from the start to the finish and may rest several players or limit minutes. The puck drops in the desert at 6pm PDT. The game can be seen in Northern California on CSN-CA and heard along the Sharks Radio Network.