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Couture Dazzles as Postseason Begins

Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 3:02 PM / News
By Jonathan Okanes  - Staff Writer
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Couture Dazzles as Postseason Begins

Sharks coach Todd McLellan has said that center Logan Couture has emerged as one of the top players in the NHL.

If there ever were a time to confirm that hypothesis, it’s now.

While Couture had a terrific regular season with 21 goals and 37 points, legacies are built in the postseason. Not that Couture hasn’t already had some productive moments in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during the first three years of his career, but as he creeps higher and higher up the ladder of elite players in the league, his postseason performance will be evaluated even more closely.

And Couture was up to the challenge in his first postseason game this season, scoring a power play goal and adding an assist during San Jose’s 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series. Couture’s goal came just four minutes after the Canucks had taken a 1-0 lead in the second period.

“Logan has elevated his play again,” McLellan said. “He played very good in all three zones, was a catalyst on the power play, very good on the penalty kill. Sounds like we’re talking about a hell of a hockey player, and that’s what he is.”



The Sharks still have stalwarts up front such as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, and both still play huge roles in the team’s success. But Couture has spent this season earning more and more respect in and out of San Jose’s dressing room. It’s not so much just his numbers and on-ice production; it’s the leadership skills he has started to exhibit and the way he conducts his business during games, practices and off the ice completely.

It’s also a knack for clutch moments, as he exhibited Wednesday. The Sharks dominated the first period but it ended in a scoreless tie. The Canucks outplayed San Jose for much of the second period, and finally broke through when defenseman Kevin Bieksa scored after a heavily populated battle in front of the Sharks goal. San Jose protested that goalie Antti Niemi was interfered with, but Couture dealt with it another way.

First, he drew a penalty on Vancouver’s Zack Kassian, who was sent to the penalty box for roughing at 16:00. It took just 35 seconds for Couture to take advantage, scoring on the man advantage to tie the game and give the Sharks a boost that lasted for the remainder of the game.

“(Couture) scored a huge goal in the second that got us back into it,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “You need the power play to come through, and we came through with a huge goal tonight.”

Couture continued to make his mark on Game 1 when he made a nice pass to Marleau from behind the net. Marleau took a shot that deflected off Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis and past goalie Roberto Luongo. That gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead in the third period.

“I knew we’d be ready,” Couture said. “We came out strong in the first period and took it to them. They came back in the second and had a good period. We played pretty well in the third. It was good to get the first one out of the way.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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