ST. LOUIS -- There's something about having Martin Havlat in the San Jose lineup that makes the Sharks tick.
The Sharks were 25-11-3 with Havlat in the lineup during the regular season, but just 18-18-7 when he wasn't -- including a 39-game bloc when he was idled by a hamstring injury that required surgery.
But Havlat is healthy now, and came through with a big goal to give San Jose a series lead.
Havlat's second goal of the game 3:34 into the second overtime gave the Sharks a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Scottrade Center.
Havlat, who missed a total of 43 games with injuries after being acquired from Minnesota last summer, scored twice to give the No. 7 Sharks a series lead against the No. 2 Blues.
After the Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk failed to get clear his zone, Havlat got a pass in the high slot from Ryane Clowe and fired a one-timer past Jaroslav Halak to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Saturday night in St. Louis.
"I was just trying to get it on net and I got a shot through and it went it," Havlat said. "It was a great play by Ryane to get me the puck. The puck was rolling a little bit and I saw it went it. It was a great feeling. My first thought was that it was time to get some rest."
There was a pick play by San Jose's Logan Couture on St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka on the play that helped create some room for Clowe to get a soft backhand pass to Havlat. He made no mistake in firing a shot that seemed to glance off the Blues' Barret Jackman and beat Halak on the near side.
But the Blues, who felt like they played well enough to win, were more disappointed in what they felt like was a number of mistakes on the play.
"I have my stick on it and it's a play that's got to be made," Shattenkirk said. "It's got to be a harder play, I've got to get it past [Couture] and get the puck out of the zone. That's what these games boil down to are plays like that. It's kind of my first reality check, I guess and first real taste of playoffs and how one mistake can really come back and bite you.
"I took an angle to skate with it and I saw him pinching off the wall and tried to chip it by him. It's got to be a harder play."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't single out Shattenkirk for blame on the winner.
"There was a lot of errors on the goal," Hitchcock said. "It's unfortunate, there were a lot of errors on that goal. We had it cleared 3-4 times, didn't win a race to the boards either. So [it was] disappointing. We played a very good hockey game, but that's playoffs."
Havlat, who also scored on the power play to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the second period, was touted as a big-game player. He lived up to that billing Thursday.
"He has that reputation," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Havlat, who now has three playoff OT goals in his career. "That's one of the reasons why he was acquired. He lived up to it tonight.
"We're very lucky that he had the type of game that he had tonight. It had to be taxing on him. You have to remember that he's only played 13-14 games returning from his injury. To go 4 1/2 periods -- give him credit. He managed himself well. He scored some big goals."
"I thought Nemo played well," McLellan said of Niemi. "We put enough pressure on their goaltender as well to win. We can't lose sight of what they are. They're an extremely strong, defensive team. They don't give you a lot. They don't give you a lot of shots, period, never mind scoring chances."
Patrik Berglund scored two third-period goals and Halak stopped 31 shots as the Blues lost to the Sharks for the first time in five meetings -- St. Louis swept the four regular-season games.
"Overall, I think our third period was our best," Berglund said. "We had a bunch of zone time and created scoring chances. Obviously we've got to try to build from that and regroup tomorrow and go back at it on Saturday."
San Jose struck first when Havlat deflected home Boyle's shot from the high slot 6:02 into the second period during a power play after David Perron took a retaliatory slashing penalty on Brent Burns behind the Sharks' net.
Havlat was able to free himself after knocking Alex Pietrangelo out of the play on what could have been an interference call. But with no whistle, Pietrangelo was late getting back into defensive position and allowed Boyle to skate in and let go a shot; Havlat was able to redirect it high into the net past Halak for a 1-0 lead. It was San Jose's first goal in this building this season, a span of 146:02 in 2011-12 and 150:58 dating back to last season.
Alex Steen just missed tying the game in the second period, but his shot rang off the crossbar and goal post with four minutes left in the period.
But Berglund tied the game just 54 seconds into the third period, deflecting Shattenkirk's right point shot between his legs and over Niemi's right shoulder, triggering an eruption from the sellout crowd of 19,333.
Berglund struck again after taking a pass from Andy McDonald. The Sharks came in shorthanded and got caught on an odd-man rush, with McDonald feeding Berglund, who skated around Joe Pavelski and snapped a shot past Niemi 7:28 into the third for a 2-1 lead.
"It was a good match for us, they created a number of scoring chances, occupied the zone," Hitchcock said of the Berglund, Alex Steen and Andy McDonald line. "They did a great job on the power play when they were out there. I'm pretty happy with them."
The Sharks nearly tied it with eight minutes left but TJ Galiardi fanned on a one-timer with eight minutes left after taking a Torrey Mitchell feed. Scott Nichol got a stick on Dominic Moore's shot seconds later, as he couldn't lift the puck over Halak, who was sprawled on the ice.
But Desjardins tied the game with 5:16 remaining. Tommy Wingels beat Roman Polak off the left boards and fed the puck in front, where Desjardins slammed it through a screen and past Halak for a 2-2 game.
The goal really turned the tide of the game.
"We can talk about the goal, but the 13-14 minutes that they played for us was very valuable," McLellan said of the Desjardins-Wingels-Daniel Winnik line. "They played hard, played smart. Desi was really good in the faceoff circle. Tommy got some power play time and played a really important role on that line. When you get those two young guys playing together with a veteran like Daniel Winnik, you have a fourth line you can trust or third line, whatever they might be."
Added Hitchcock: "I think the goal that hurt us the most was the second one. It gave them a chance because we really had good control of the game."
Burns appeared to get away with a delay of game penalty in overtime -- he whacked the puck into the crowd, but the four officials conferred and determined it went off T.J. Oshie's stick. Television replays indicated that the puck went into the stands untouched.
Both teams had chances in the first overtime, but neither could score. Niemi was the busier of the two goalies, stopping all 14 shots he faced. Halak made eight stops.