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SAN JOSE – Perhaps Marty Havlat saw the writing on the wall that his place in the Sharks’ postseason lineup was, and maybe even still is, far from certain.
Despite the Sharks being down a pair of top nine forwards in Tomas Hertl and Raffi Torres, and going into their biggest game of the season on Wednesday night in Anaheim while still in contention for the Pacific Division title, Havlat was decked out in a suit rather than a hockey sweater.
Journeyman Bracken Kearns was among the Sharks that played ahead of Havlat. He was recalled from Worcester the day before in part to “stir the drink,” according to coach Todd McLellan, who said that some of his players were “too comfortable and haven’t earned it completely yet,” without mentioning anyone by name.
When Havlat’s name appeared on the scratch sheet for the showdown with the Ducks, it revealed at least one player that the coach was referring to.
Havlat’s response against Colorado on Friday at SAP Center – a three-goal, one assist performance along with a +4 rating in San Jose's 5-1 win – was just what McLellan was looking for in the 32-year-old’s return. He played on the wing of Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau.
“Very good response. He responded well, and not just the goals,” McLellan said. “It was the way he carried himself on the ice, the way he competed nose over the puck, and battled. I thought that line was our best line tonight, and he was a big part of it.”
Dan Boyle said: “He’s one of those guys that has had a challenging season. He’s here to score goals, and we’re going to need him in the playoffs to do that. Hopefully something like this can propel him to bigger and better things. I was certainly excited and glad for him.”
Havlat’s hat trick was his first since Nov. 2, 2005, while he was still with the Ottawa Senators, and all of his goals came in succession in the third period. He got his stick on a Couture shot after the center deftly danced to the high slot, and later pushed in his own rebound on a breakaway. An empty-netter capped the standout performance.
How did it feel?
"It's been awhile. Definitely pretty good, but the thing that was most important was the way we played and that we finished on a winning note," he said.
Havlat deflected a question about being benched on Wednesday, preferring to talk about the team rather than his own game.
“It doesn't matter who scores. I had a good night tonight, but the thing is the way we played,” he said. “It doesn't matter who scored the goals tonight. We didn't have to win tonight. We didn't want to lose, for sure, but it's about how we end up the regular season.
“Now, we get ready for the real season."
On Friday, Havlat showed with his play that he’d like to be a part it.