Elevating Their Game

Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 2:26 PM PT / News
By Jonathan Okanes  - Staff Writer
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Elevating Their Game

The Sharks helped teammate Logan Couture by improving their play when he got injured Saturday night. Couture then returned the favor by coming back and winning the game.

Couture missed most of the second period, but was able to return and score the game-winner in overtime to lift the Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

“I thought everybody elevated their game,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “I thought our game management at that point of the night was as good as it’s been all year, as far as shift length, puck management, getting fresh people on the ice. It’s something we talked about. Why change it now just because Logan is back. Let’s keep doing that.”

Marty Havlat, who returned from a five-game layoff with an undisclosed injury, re-injured himself and also left the game after the first period. That left the Sharks down to 10 forwards, and forced McLellan into some tricky line shuffling and game management.

Despite being short-handed, the Sharks dominated the second period with several high-quality scoring chances.

“When guys went down, guys shortened their shifts and went a little harder,” San Jose’s Joe Pavelski said. “Everyone chipped in.”

Couture returned from the dressing room late in the second period and tested out his injury by skating briefly during a stoppage. He was healthy enough to play, although he rushed back to the dressing room immediately after the game and started to receive treatment.

Asked if Couture would be available to play in Game 4 on Tuesday, McLellan said: “Based on his smile in the locker room, I’m assuming he’ll be fine.”

Couture’s game-winning goal came on the power play, culminating a sequence that began as a 5-on-3 that spilled over from the third period. First, the Kings’ Robyn Regehr took a hooking penalty at 19:18. Moments after that, Los Angeles had a short-handed rush but the play was broken up and Trevor Lewis bulled over Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi for goaltender interference at 19:55.

San Jose couldn’t score with the two-man advantage, but seven seconds after Regehr came out of the box, Joe Thornton passed the puck to Patrick Marleau from the side boards, and Marleau quickly flipped it out in front for Couture, who slid it past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick for the game-winner.

“He’s our guy up there,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “He’s obviously a huge, huge part of our team. Guys did a great job when he was out, but he comes back and scores the game-winner with a terrific shot. That’s a pretty good shot. He’s a tremendous hockey player.”

The Sharks gave their fans some anxious moments when they failed to generate a real strong scoring chance with the two-man advantage, but the short-handed Kings simply couldn’t continue to kill off the penalties for that long.

“I thought we were a little too excited, a little too wound up, even us as coaches,” McLellan said. “We needed to calm down a little bit. It was veteran players – elite players – that we were putting on the ice. We had a plan. It almost came to fruition. But after that, they just played. They came through.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 CHI 75 45 24 6 213 175 96
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 76 36 31 9 67
L. Couture 76 25 37 -4 62
J. Thornton 72 14 48 -5 62
B. Burns 76 16 40 -6 56
P. Marleau 76 17 36 -17 53
T. Wingels 69 15 20 -5 35
T. Hertl 76 12 17 -2 29
M. Nieto 66 8 16 -11 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
J. Braun 65 1 22 6 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 7 7 2 .905 2.55
A. Niemi 29 22 7 .914 2.62
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