SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Logan Couture and Marty Havlat did much more than just shut down Minnesota's top line. They dominated the score sheet for San Jose, as well.
Couture and Havlat each scored two goals and the Sharks closed in on a ninth straight playoff berth, beating the Wild 6-1 on Thursday night for their most lopsided win of the season.
"The last 10 games or so we've been matched up against top lines, so it's a challenge every night," Couture said. "Coming to the rink we're excited to do it. To have a point night like this is always nice."
Couture, Havlat and Patrick Marleau controlled their matchup with Mikko Koivu, Zack Parise and Charlie Coyle by winning faceoffs, getting the puck into the Wild zone and converting on their scoring chances. Couture and Marleau had two assists apiece and Havlat added another as the trio combined for nine points.
Raffi Torres and Joe Pavelski also scored for the Sharks, who have won three straight games to remain tied for fourth place with Los Angeles in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Antti Niemi made 26 saves in his 22nd straight start.
"We all feel comfortable," captain Joe Thornton said. "We all like where our game is. We can still improve in some things and we still got some games in the regular season to win. But, yeah, we keep getting better. It's a perfect time for that."
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the lone goal for the Wild, who dropped behind St. Louis into seventh place in the conference. Minnesota has a four-point lead over ninth-place Dallas and Detroit in the battle for the final playoff spot in the conference but has one fewer game remaining.
"We didn't deserve anything today," said Niklas Backstrom, who was replaced in the third period after allowing five goals. "We know we can play a lot better than that. We weren't playing well at any point of the game today. We have to get back to basics and do the small things right. We have to get back to playing our game. If we play the right way, we'll be fine."
Havlat has struggled to produce in his two seasons in San Jose since being acquired in a deal for Heatley in July 2011. But he has excelled against the Wild this month with three goals and two assists. He has no points in his last 10 games against the rest of the league.
Along with the two goals, Havlat also drew the penalty that set up Couture's power-play tally when he was held by Clayton Stoner early in the second.
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