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Havlat's two-goal night lifts Sharks

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Martin Havlat came up big against a former team Thursday night, but he was not about to bask in the limelight.

"Tonight we had some lucky bounces, especially on my goals," Havlat said. "We'll take that and be happy we got the two points."

The modest Havlat scored two goals and added an assist as the San Jose Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 6-1. His first multi-goal game of the season was his first since scoring a pair during a 3-2 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on March 17, 2012.

"It's nice, but there are four games left in the regular season, and we're just trying to get to the playoffs, so hopefully this helps," Havlat said. "It doesn't really matter who scores the goals right now, we're rolling four lines, and that's what's most important."

Linemate Logan Couture added two goals to take the team lead with 19.

"It shows we've got good depth and every line is dangerous," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said.

The Sharks' 11th win in 14 games enabled San Jose to keep pace with victorious the Los Angeles Kings. Each team has 55 points with four games remaining. The fourth-place Kings, who beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday, hold a tiebreaker edge over the fifth-place Sharks.

The Minnesota Wild slipped to seventh in the West, one point behind the victorious St. Louis Blues and two points ahead of Columbus.

"We didn't execute the way we wanted," Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu said. "They were working, getting the pucks deep, and we had too many turnovers. That's what happens. We can't let that happen. It was disappointing tonight."

San Jose's Raffi Torres and Joe Pavelski scored within 22 seconds early in the third period as the hosts turned the game into a rout. Couture struck on a pass from Havlat at 9:15 of the third.

"We're happy to get the two points. It doesn't matter if it's 2-1 or 6-1," Havlat said.

San Jose opened some breathing room by scoring twice in the middle period to take a 3-1 lead into the third.

Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner held Havlat, and the game's first penalty proved costly. Couture scored 64 seconds into the 5-on-4 by completing a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play that included teammates Thornton and Patrick Marleau at 5:29. The goal put San Jose in front 2-0.

Thornton's 786th career assist moved him into sole possession of 33rd place on the NHL's all-time list.

The Wild cut the deficit in half when Pierre-Marc Bouchard slipped behind Sharks rookie defenseman Matt Irwin to beat goalie Antti Niemi with a backhand on a breakaway at 9:44.

The visitors had two chances to tie -- Kyle Brodziak hit the near post with a wrist shot from the left circle, and Niemi made a pad save on a Koivu redirection -- before the hosts scored again.

Couture intercepted a clearing attempt from behind the net by Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom and fed Havlat in front for basically an empty-net goal at 14:32 of the second period.

"We've got to learn from this," Koivu said. "We're obviously frustrated right now ... We have to be honest, we weren't even close enough. We've got to be better."

The Sharks scored the only goal of a penalty-free first period they dominated in shots (12-7) and territorial advantage.

San Jose struck at 7:42 when Havlat led a 2-on-2 rush into the Wild zone. Havlat pulled up with a move inside the blue line and attempted to lead Couture with a cross-ice feed. However, Koivu, backchecking on Couture, inadvertently redirected the puck past Backstrom in what was credited as San Jose's fourth shot of the game.

The Wild had an opportunity 90 seconds earlier when trade-deadline acquisition Jason Pominville slipped behind San Jose defenseman Jason Demers for a breakaway that Niemi stopped.

Niemi, who started his 22nd consecutive game, made 27 saves.

Backstrom allowed five goals on 27 shots. Darcy Kuemper stopped one of two shots after replacing Backstrom in the third period.

NOTES: Niemi has started all but two of the Sharks' 22 games at home, where he had a 1.76 goals-against average before Thursday. ... Former Wild defenseman Brent Burns has eight goals in 20 games since being moved to forward by San Jose. ... Irwin returned to the lineup after missing one game as a healthy scratch. He replaced Scott Hannan, who played Tuesday for the first time since being acquired by San Jose at the trade deadline. Forwards James Sheppard, Tim Kennedy and defenseman Matt Tennyson also did not dress for San Jose. ... Minnesota was making the final game of a three-stop trip before returning home for three straight (Calgary, Los Angeles and Edmonton). ... The Sharks have two games left on their current four-game homestand. ... Defensemen Nate Prosser and Justin Falk were healthy scratches for the Wild.
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