A meaningless game became must-see TV for Sharks fans when it was announced this morning that Tomas Hertl would return to the lineup against the Avalanche. After a 40+ game absence Hertl got the call tonight, playing 15 minutes and registering two shots on goal.
On the second night of a back-to-back Patrick Roy inexplicably decided to start third-stringer Retto Berra over usual backup Jean-Sebastian Giguere. That decision proved costly quickly as the Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on their first five shots of the game. This led Roy to rethink his goaltending decision, opting to replace Berra with Giguere after Patrick Marleau's goal at 10:11 in the first period.
The Avalanche kept the game close in a back-and-forth second period that saw the possession numbers slightly favor the Denver squad. This culminated in a great goal from Patrick Bordeleau, ending Alex Stalock's shutout bid. The Sharks woke up after the Avs made it a one-goal game and dominated play the rest of the way.
Martin Havlat was benched against Anaheim, a "message" sent by the coaching staff, apparently. Well, if such a thing matters, Havlat certainly replied tonight. A shot from Logan Couture was deflected in by number nine and eight minutes later he buried his own rebound on a breakaway. This culminated in his sixth-career hat trick as Roy pulled Giguere with over five minutes to go and Havlat found the back of the empty net.
- Martin Havlat scored three goals. I have nothing to add to that.
- Tomas Hertl looked like his usual self out there, which is a great sign for a Sharks team that is going to need him come playoff time.
- He started out on the third line tonight, which is hopefully just a precautionary move and not an indicator of what we'll see in the playoffs.
- Alex Stalock was terrific again, making 32 saves of the 33 that came his way, including a few beauties. I assume Antti Niemi will get the start tomorrow night, but as for who starts against the Kings in game one next week...well, that's anyone's guess.
- Patrick Roy pulled his netminder with almost six minutes to play in the third period. Pretty awesome.
- Dan Boyle scored a goal and the Sharks won the game. Seems like that hasn't happened much lately.
- This game might be meaningless in terms of the playoffs, but watching the Sharks beat a team they should beat makes me feel better.
- Matt Nieto is in southern California because his mother is undergoing cancer treatment (per the great Dave Pollak). Thoughts and prayers are with his family, of course.
- Only one more game until the impending stress of the playoffs seeks to kill me yet again. I can't wait.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Martin Havlat
2nd Star: Alex Stalock
3rd Star: Logan Couture