SAN JOSE When any player returns from a long absence, its only natural he might take a few games to get his legs and his lungs back to where he wants them to be.
He may have scored two goals last night, including the winner in overtime, but Marty Havlat is no different. As mentioned in last nights recap, the winger said he was dying midway through the exciting 3-2 Sharks win over the Red Wings.
Todd McLellan noticed it, too, and kept Havlat on the bench for a few shifts in the third period.
There was one or two shifts where I held him back a little but because he looked a little gassed, and he knew. We communicated on the bench, McLellan said. But other than that, we were playing him. Hes doing the work for us, hes playing a smart game.
The coach obviously made the right decision in overtime.
Hes a smart, smart player. He doesnt waste a lot of energy on the ice. Positions himself well. I think hes managed himself very good the first two games as far as shift length and putting himself in spots where he can succeed, McLellan said.
Marc-Edourard Vlasic said: Hes a big part of our team. Weve missed him for a long time, he comes back, gets two goals and plays a great game. We needed that offense from him and he delivered tonight.
Goals coming early: For the third straight game, the Sharks have scored a goal before many fans have even had time to buy a hot dog or get their butts to the seats.
Twice its come from the top line, including Joe Pavelskis goal just 48 seconds after the opening faceoff last night.
For whatever reason were just hopping on teams early. Wed like to keep that trend going, but its not going to last forever, I dont think, said Joe Thornton, who set up Pavelski from behind the net.
Pavelski, who tied his career high with his 25th goal, said: It gets the crowd into it, obviously. It gets the guys into it. It establishes our game. We know were ready, we know we can play with them all night. You score early, you definitely have a little extra jump.
On March 13 in Calgary, Logan Couture scored 53 seconds into the game. The previous night in Edmonton, Torrey Mitchells goal came 1:07 into the first period.
From the Wings room: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard had this to say about Havlats overtime goal:
It was a good play by Havlat to scoop it up there. Theres not much you can do when youve got two guys laying on you, but its part of the game. It was a pile out in front. They were able to get the loose puck and put it home.
Howard was a bit tied up with Justin Braun and several other players, including some Red Wings, on the winning goal.
Detroit lost its fourth straight game and sixth of seven. They failed to win on their four-game trip, and were swept in California, dropping decisions to the Kings and Ducks before last night.
This was their best effort, though, according to Brad Stuart.
Obviously it was not the start we wanted, but I thought we battled back hard, found a way to get back in the game and get it to overtime. Weve got to find a way to win, but its a step in the right direction. Weve got to continue to get better and have those types of efforts more consistently on the road coming down the stretch here.
Head coach Mike Babcock said: I thought our game tonight was a step in the right direction. Our two previous games we didnt play hard enough, organized enough, or committed enough to have any kind of success.