San Jose, CA – Logan Couture posted two goals and two assists as the San Jose Sharks thumped the Minnesota Wild, 6-1, on Thursday.
With the win, San Jose kept pace with Los Angeles, which beat Columbus on Thursday, in the chase for the fourth playoff seed in the Western Conference. Both teams have 55 points, but Los Angeles has more regulation and overtime wins to hold the tiebreaker. Also, the two clubs trail Anaheim by five points for first place in the Pacific Division and second in the conference, but the Ducks have a game in hand on the Kings and Sharks.
Martin Havlat had two goals and an assist while Raffi Torres and Joe Pavelski each added a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three of four. Antti Niemi made 26 stops in the win.
"He's driving our bus right now," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said of Havlat. "He's the head guy and he's making it happen and we're happy for him."
Pierre-march Bouchard scored the lone goal of the game for the Wild, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Niklas Backstrom was pulled in the third period after giving up five goals on 27 shots. Darcy Kuemper played the final 15-plus minutes in net and gave up a goal on two shots faced.
Minnesota fell to the seventh spot in the Western Conference after St. Louis defeated Phoenix on Thursday. With 51 points, Minnesota is one back of St. Louis and two ahead of Columbus.
"We just weren't executing," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "We have to put it behind us and look ahead."
San Jose caught a lucky break to get the first goal of the game as Havlat threw the puck on net from the right wing and it went off the stick of Minnesota's Mikko Koivu and into the net at the 7:42 mark of the first.
The Sharks made it a 2-0 game 5:29 into the second on the power play as Patrick Marleau sent a pass from the right side to the front where Couture one-timed it home.
Minnesota got one back four minutes later as Bouchard lifted a backhander over Niemi to cap a breakaway, but the Sharks got it back with 5:28 to play in the second as Couture leaped along the right corner boards to get the puck and centered it for a one-timer by Havlat to make it a 3-1 game.
Just 3:59 into the third, the Sharks took a 4-1 lead as Torres flew down the left wing and went behind the net before wrapping it in from the right side for his first goal as a Shark.
Pavelski wristed the puck home from the slot off a broken play just 22 seconds later to chase Backstrom from the net.
Couture netted his second of the game with 10:45 to play with a slap shot from the slot.
Minnesota hosts Calgary on Sunday ... San Jose plays in Columbus on Sunday ... The Sharks took two of three from the Wild this season ... San Jose scored on its only power play while Minnesota didn't have a single man advantage.