Martin Havlat Sharks

Sharks, Kings wins make Pacific race tighter


The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings both needed to win on Saturday and they both got their way.

The Sharks have benefited recently from getting Martin Havlat back, who scored two goals to help them earn their third win in four games. After a rocky start to the month, San Jose seems to have finally turned a corner.

Los Angeles managed to pace the Sharks with their fourth straight victory and seventh win in their last nine games. The Kings are one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference right now, but they’re still only tied for eighth place with San Jose, despite the fact that Los Angeles has played in one extra game.

Of course, both teams are competing for more than the eighth seed. The Pacific Division is about as tight as it can be right now. San Jose and Los Angeles are a mere point behind the division leading Dallas Stars and only a point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes.

That’s a logjam that might clear up a bit next week with the Sharks scheduled to play the Kings on Tuesday and the Coyotes on Saturday. The Stars are also getting ready for a match against Phoenix on Tuesday.

There’s something to like about all four teams. The Kings feature one of the best goaltenders in the game right now and they have a deceptively (given their overall offensive output this season) talented core of forwards. The Sharks have two strong scoring lines now that Havlat is back. Dallas has a solid combination of good goaltending with some great top-end talent in Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn. Finally, the Coyotes have managed to defy the odds this season thanks in large part to goaltender Mike Smith. Phoenix is fading fast though and they’ll need to bounce back quickly if they want to stay in this tight race.

The point is that no division from one to four is closer right now and these teams might be the ones to watch over the final weeks of the season.

Video: Wild score four in 5:07 for shock win in Colorado

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Everything was going great for the Avs in their season-opener against Minnesota on Thursday night.

Great until the third period, anyway.

In a stunning and dramatic comeback, the Wild erased a 4-1 deficit in just over five minutes — 5:07 to be exact — scoring four times to steal a 5-4 win at the Pepsi Center.

The comeback started early in the final frame, when Wild captain Zach Parise scored his second of the night at the 5:07 mark. Just over two minutes later, Nino Niederreiter snapped one past Semyon Varlamov to make it 4-3 and then, two minutes after that, Thomas Vanek scored to make it 4-4.

But the Wild weren’t done there.

Parise completed his hat-trick — the third of his career — with a power play marker at the 10:14 mark, an unassisted tally. When the dust finally settled on the 5:07 flurry, the Wild had combined to rack up nine points from eight different skaters.

Prior to the comeback, Colorado dominated proceedings with a goalscoring flurry of its own.

The Avs scored three times in the final seven minutes of the first period — including a pair of power play goals from Jarome Iginla and Erik Johnson — to race out to a (seemingly) commanding 3-0 lead.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever


Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.