SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Marty Havlat had his sixth career hat trick, Alex Stalock made 32 saves, and the San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 Friday night at SAP Center in a battle between Western Conference teams headed for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Colorado could have clinched the Central Division title with a victory after the St. Louis Blues lost 3-0 to the Dallas Stars earlier Friday. The Avalanche and Blues remained tied atop the Central with 111 points, but Colorado owns the tiebreaker. Colorado will play its final regular-season game Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. St. Louis plays its final game Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Colorado trails Anaheim by one point in the race to finish with the Western Conference's best record, but the Ducks have a game in hand.
The Sharks were already locked into a second-place finish in the Pacific Division and a first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings. They had little to play for other than building some momentum for the playoffs and giving their fans a treat in their final regular-season home game.
Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau also scored for the Sharks.
Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau cut San Jose's lead to 2-1 with a goal at 15:18 of the second period, but Havlat scored three straight goals in the third for his first hat trick as a Shark.
Havlat extended San Jose's lead to 3-1 at 5:26 of the third, redirecting a shot from Logan Couture past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Havlat scored again with 6:20 left to play, ramming in a rebound after Giguere stopped his shot on a breakaway. Havlat scored an empty-net goal with 4:56 left to play to complete his natural hat trick.
Colorado coach Patrick Roy's decision to start No. 3 goaltender Reto Berra and rest Semyon Varlamov and Giguere quickly backfired. The Sharks grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Boyle and Marleau, and Roy benched Berra for Giguere 10:11 into the game. Berra stopped just three of the five shots he faced.
Berra had started once since coming to Colorado in a March 5 trade from the Calgary Flames; he gave up five goals on 27 shots on March 19 in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Boyle gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 3:01 of the first, ripping a shot from the right circle that beat Berra to the far side. The goal was Boyle's 12th of the season and fourth in seven games.
Marleau made it 2-0 with 9:49 still left in the first with his 33rd goal of the season. Colorado center Paul Stastny turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Havlat quickly passed it to Marleau, who turned on the speed and elevated a shot from the slot that sailed over Berra's shoulder and into the net.
Sharks rookie forward Tomas Hertl was in the lineup for the first time since injuring his right knee Dec. 19 against the Los Angeles Kings and played a solid game. Hertl, who underwent surgery on Dec. 31, ripped a shot from the left circle 1:35 into the game that Berra grabbed. Early in the third, Hertl won a battle for the puck along the right boards, drove the net and fired a shot from the crease that deflected hard off of Giguere. He got a boarding penalty late in the third.
Each team suffered an injury during a hard-hitting first period. Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie took a big hit from Sharks defenseman Jason Demers midway through the first and skated off slowly; he returned to the ice later in the period but did not play in the final two periods.
Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan took an elbow to the head from Bordeleau late in the first and did not return.
Colorado cut San Jose's lead in half at 15:18 of the second period on Bordeleau's sixth goal of the season. Maxime Talbot zipped a cross-ice pass to a hard-charging Bordeleau, who beat Stalock from just to the right of the crease.
Avalanche forward PA Parenteau, who returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a knee injury, went to the penalty box for high-sticking Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart at 15:35 of the second. The Avalanche killed that penalty, and Parenteau had a breakaway after leaving the box and taking a long pass, but Stalock made a huge pad save.
Colorado forward John Mitchell was scratched because of reported headaches and a possible concussion.
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