The Sharks are hoping Havlat’s return will spark their offense. A six-time 20-goal scorer, Havlat has just two through 26 games this season but has proven to be an efficient sniper when healthy. During his three seasons in Chicago, Havlat scored 64 goals in 172 games (Average: 30 per 82) while playing with a set of skilled forwards comparable to San Jose’s.
That said, San Jose’s forwards are struggling to find the back of the net lately. The Sharks haven’t scored more than three goals in a single game since Feb. 16 — a stretch of 14 contests — and have just 11 goals in all of March.
(If you’re wondering why the Sharks picked tonight for Havlat’s return, do consider they’re playing the Preds — Havlat has 37 points in 30 career games against Nashville.)
According to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News, Havlat took morning line rushes with Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau on a new-look second line.
UPDATE: Here’s Havlat talking to San Jose’s Dan Rusanowsky, confirming he’s back in the lineup.
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career