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Elevating Their Game

Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 5:26 PM / 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 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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