VANCOUVER Now that the Sharks are down two of their two six forwards, and seem to dig deeper into their AHL affiliate in Worcester with each passing day, its more incumbent upon the teams star players to pick up the slack and put the puck in the net.
That certainly includes Logan Couture, who entered Saturday afternoons game in Vancouver scoreless and a -6 in his past three games.
Against the Canucks, though, Couture was the Sharks most effective player, scoring a shorthanded goal, a power play goal, blocking a career-high tying five shots, and killing penalties in an exasperating 4-3 loss.
He was seeing the ice very well, Joe Thornton said. We always knew he could shoot the puck really well. He was just competing so hard, and had another two goals tonight, so hes doing a great job for us.
Couture has had some success in his brief career against the Canucks. In 11 regular season games against Vancouver, the team that ended the Sharks season last year, Couture now has five goals and two assists for seven points and a 5 rating. Four of those goals are against Roberto Luongo.
After last year and them putting us out in the playoffs, you never like to lose to these guys, he said. It fires me up, and I know it fires a bunch of guys in the room. Its unfortunate we couldnt win this one tonight.
Couture has seven two-goal games, but is still seeking his first career NHL hat trick. He nearly had it, too, but his open look at the net from the circle on a rush in the third period, when it was still 2-2, was turned aside by Luongo.
Naturally, he reflected upon that opportunity after the game.
I had a chance to score late in the third in a tie game, and Luongo made a save, he said. I felt good, but it sucks to lose.
When asked about Coutures game, Todd McLellan didnt want to overlook another young player on the other side, in 21-year-old Canucks forward Cody Hodgson, who had two goals himself including the game-winner. Like Couture, Hodgson is a former first round draft pick.
Couture went ninth overall in 2007, while Hodgson was chosen 10th in 2008.
Fabulous, McLellan said of Couture. It was interesting to see both Cody Hodgson and Logan Couture play as young dynamic players in the game. The Sedins, the Thorntons and the Marleaus are still very dominant and have a ton of skill and are fun to watch, but those two young guys stole the show tonight.