Havlat a scorer through and through

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Havlat a scorer through and through

St. Louis -- Martin Havlat knew when he came off the ice Thursday night that there would be the traditional Skype session back at the hotel. Two goals in San Joses double-overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues including the game-winner, a bad penalty that almost cost the Fins the game in regulation it was a busy night, and it would be reduced to sub-atomic level in the nightly chat-up with his father Slava back in the Czech Republic.

Oh, yes, we talked about the win, Havlat said Friday. And we talked about the Blues. He likes the way they play.

REWIND: Sharks take Game 1 on Havlat's OT goal

Slava Havlat is, as you might have deduced from that sentence, a coach. Well, a former coach, anyway. He is 81 now, and watched his sons latest playoff triumph with that jewelers eye only a coach possesses. Fathers see one player. Coaches see the field of play.

We talk after most of the games, Havlat said. Its nine hours ahead, so on the West Coast the games start at 4:30 a.m., so he doesnt see all of them. But last night he watched, and then we talked, and then he went back to bed.

RATTO: Sharks' Havlat remains a playoff rainmaker

Slava Havlat played defense in his hockey days, and a goaltender in team handball. His son played tennis and soccer as well as hockey, and holds fast to his favorite soccer teams, Arsenal (with the Czech star Tomas Rosicky) and Barcelona (with the redoubtable Lionel Messi and about eight other of the best players in the world).

And Slava Havlat coached his son still does, in a sense. And his handiwork is on best display now, from the uniform number (9) they share to the sons gifts as a sniper. He has 30 points in his last 28 playoff games, and an ability to reduce each scoring opportunity down to portions of seconds as he did in the second overtime Thursday.

Hes a scorer, really, head coach Todd McLellan said. I saw a quote he gave where he said he had to wait for the puck to settle down, and thats something a scorer has. A non-scorer doesnt have that. He shoots as fast as he can. But a scorer will wait that extra moment . . . fractions of a second . . . because thats what scorers can do.

VIDEO: Havlat -- 'I just tried to get it on net and it went in

Indeed, between the time he received the pass from Ryane Clowe to the moment he felt defenseman Barrett Jackman closing on him and his little space became none, he got his puck to settle down and beat Jaroslav Halak with the game-winner. Fractions of a second.

And fractions of a second between when he saw Halak behind the net in the third period, decided he could not avoid contact, and took the penalty that led to St. Louis go-ahead goal by Patrik Berglund.

I didnt have a lot of time to change my course, he said. But I knew as soon as I touched him that it would be bad.

It was. He got pulled over for goalie interference, and while he was processing the shame, Berglund scored his second goal and gave the Blues the lead they typically hold with a falcons tenacity.

Only this time they didnt. Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels combined to tie the game, and Havlat, who had scored the games first goal and has fresher legs based on having played 43 fewer than the rest of his mates because of a hamstring injury, had the legs at games end to find that space and do what McLellan likes to call getting there on time. Great scorers do that. They used to say that about Brett Hull. Scorers just have that.

And Martin Havlat is a scorer, especially now, when the chips are in the middle of the table and the turn becomes the river. Back in the Czech Republic, his father is proud.

And given the hour, he is also tired. There are a lot of games left before his sleep patterns regain normalcy.

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

Programming note – Sharks-Canadiens coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 14-9-1, 29 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canadiens: 16-5-2, 34 points, 1st Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***It’s a battle of first place teams at SAP Center, as the Sharks lead the Pacific Division and the Canadiens are atop the overall league standings. The Sharks are in the midst of playing eight of 10 at home, and bring a 5-1-0 mark in their last six games into tonight.

The Sharks will wrap up a stretch of 10 games in 18 days before they get a chance to rest before Wednesday’s home game with Ottawa.

“It’s been a lot of hockey. It will be nice to get a couple days after this to relax and recover a little bit,” Joe Thornton said. “We know we don’t play for another five days, so to get this win would be huge for us.”

Montreal is playing the third of a five-game road trip. It began with a 2-1 overtime win in Detroit last Saturday, and was followed by a 2-1 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.

***The undisputed best goalie in the world will be in net for Montreal, as Carey Price (13-2-1, 1.68 GAA, .947 SP) will face the Sharks for the first time since March 21, 2015. He’s 2-4-1 in his career against San Jose, with a 2.70 GAA and .924 SP.

Goals figure to be hard to come by. The Sharks lead the league with just 2.08 goals allowed per game, while Montreal is third (2.13).

“We have to be prepared to win 2-1 here tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “That has to be the mindset. If we can get more than that, we’ll take it.”

Martin Jones will go for the Sharks. In his last 10 games, he’s 7-2-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .942 SP with a pair of shutouts. 

***Tommy Wingels, who has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, will be a game-time decision. If he doesn’t play, expect Micheal Haley to remain in on the fourth line.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ center is heating up, and has at least one point in six of the Sharks’ last eight games (6g, 2a). He’s tied with Brent Burns for the team lead in goals with nine, and led the way in San Jose’s 4-1 win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with two goals and one assist.

Canadiens: Shea Weber. The defenseman has had an immediate impact in his first season in Montreal, with 18 points (8g, 10a) and an NHL-best plus-18 rating. Arguably the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy, Weber will be seeing the Sharks for the first time since his miserable performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with Nashville.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Canadiens
Paul Byron – Alex Galchenyuk – Alex Radulov
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw
Torrey Mitchell – Phillip Danault – Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio – Greg Pateryn

Carey Price (starter)
Al Montoya

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) is questionable. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Canadiens: Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Charles Hudon (fractured sternum) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I’m biased but I think [our defense corps] is one of the top back ends in the league. They do a great job moving the puck, play well defensively, and I’m sure it’s tough for other teams to score on us.” – Logan Couture

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks jumped out to a first period lead and were never in any real danger after that in a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday. Three takeaways from the victory over their biggest rival…

1 – Having the Kings’ number

The circumstances were all in the Kings’ favor – they were more rested, one of the best NHL teams at home this season, and entered on a five-game winning streak – but the Sharks managed to beat them fairly handily, even if the game was probably a little closer than the 4-1 final would indicate.

Including the 2016 playoffs, the Sharks have won their last six games at Staples Center. What’s the secret to that success?

“I don’t know if there’s a secret,” Pete DeBoer said. “The one thing about any time we play L.A. is there is no speeches needed. We know it’s going to be a hard game, we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. Our guys have been responding to that challenge. [Martin Jones] has been excellent, too. That’s a big part of it.”

2 – Jones no worse for wear

The Sharks goalie was starting on back-to-back days for the first time this season, and continued his recent run of success. He’ll likely play on Friday against the Canadiens before he and his Sharks teammates get a rare weekend off with no games or practices scheduled.

“I felt fine,” Jones said after the game. “I thought the guys did a really good job keeping it simple tonight. We got pucks deep, and we worked them low.”

Jones and the Sharks’ defenders have been outstanding during their 5-1-0 stretch, allowing just eight goals in their last six games. The Sharks goalie got a major assist in the second period from Brent Burns, who dove into the goal crease to keep Trevor Lewis from cutting the lead to 3-2 when Lewis had Jones beat.

“It was a great play by Lewis and a great play by Burnzie to keep it out there,” Jones said.

DeBoer said: “Burnzie has been playing great. I thought he was very good tonight. … I thought [Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun] shutting down [Jeff] Carter, and Burnzie and [Paul Martin] – I thought our whole defense corps really played well.”

3 – Carpenter showing he belongs

It was another strong outing from 25-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who scored his first NHL goal, had two shots, three hits, and was 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle in 11:38 of ice time.

DeBoer said the Sharks’ fourth line, primarily with Carpenter centering Micheal Haley and either Melker Karlsson or Kevin Labanc, “might have been our best line tonight. They were excellent.”

Carpenter is making the most if his chance to show he’s a full time NHL player.

“Try to take just a simple approach, one day at a time,” he said. “The Sharks are so deep, they’ve got so many established, proven forwards, that any chance you’re in the lineup you’ve got to take advantage of it. Trying to do that. Any time Pete puts me in, I’m going to go all out.”