Sharks picking up steam heading into Game 4
Logan Couture (left) leads the Sharks with 10 points, while Jason Demers has yet to play in the postseason. (AP)
Programming note: Watch tonight’s Kings-Sharks Game 4 streaming LIVE online at NBCSports.com -- after the game, switch over to Sharks Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – First, a sigh of relief.
Logan Couture, who did not skate with the Sharks at practice on Monday, was back on the ice on Tuesday morning and there are no doubts about his status for Game 4 against the Kings at HP Pavilion.
“All good,” Couture said, when asked how he is.
Todd McLellan said: “Logan was good yesterday, [he] just didn’t skate. It made no sense to put him on the ice. He looked good this morning, and he’s excited about playing. I don’t think it’s an issue or factor at all.”
Couture, of course, missed most of the second period of Saturday’s Game 3 while getting treatment on what appeared to be a left leg injury. He returned at the end of the second, and scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
The Sharks had their first two-day break between playoff games as the series resumes tonight.
“It helped me and, I’m sure it helped some other guys as well – their team and our team,” Couture said. “Rest is big, especially this time of the year through this schedule. Guys have bumps and bruises. It was a good day.”
McLellan will apparently leave his top two scoring lines intact for Game 3, meaning Couture will center Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau while Joe Thornton is between Brent Burns and TJ Galiardi.
The Sharks were able to win Game 3 on a pair of power play goals, their first in the series. Five-on-five, the Kings had the only goal in the 2-1 final.
“There's no guarantee you're going to continue to get multiple goals on the power play on any given night. We have to find ways to score goals at even strength,” McLellan said. “You take the power plays out of it, they win 1-0, they're up 3-0 (in the series) and we're in big trouble. Five on five, I liked our play. I liked the fact we did create some chances, but it has to go over the goal line for us to have success."
Couture’s line, with Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, was matched up primarily against Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. Thornton’s line played well against Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dwight King.
“Through the middle, Kopitar’s got speed – he’s so big and he’s so strong,” Couture said. “Brown finishes all his checks. He’s dangerous around the net. Williams is crafty with the puck. You have to be careful with them on the ice. They’re a threat every shift.”
A goal from one of the bottom two lines would help, too, although both teams are down a few players, The Sharks are without Marty Havlat, Adam Burish and Raffi Torres and the Kings are missing Jarret Stoll. Tommy Wingels addressed that after the morning skate.
“We’re trying,” said Wingels, who will skate with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard. “[Jonathan] Quick is playing well, but I think we are getting our chances, and that’s what you want as a line. The top two lines are battling pretty hard, so it might come down to the third or fourth line chipping in, either on our side or their side.”
McLellan still appears to be toying with the idea of using Jason Demers as a forward. The defenseman skated up front in Monday’s practice, but was back on the blue line on Tuesday morning.
McLellan said: "We could put Demers in and play him both at forward and the back end, and rotate him around and then that would allow us to maybe use somebody else on the fourth line a little bit more, whether it's Jumbo, Patty, whoever it might be. So, it's certainly an option."