Highlights: Sharks explode out of break
Programming note: Sharks-Sabres coverage today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
PHILADELPHIA -- There are numerous reasons why the Sharks exploded for a touchdown’s worth of goals on Thursday night in a 7-3 win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
A soft Flyers defense around the net, wobbly goaltending, and a compete level that Philadelphia head coach Craig Berube questioned after the game were among them.
And while Joe Pavelski was the biggest contributor to the offensive attack with his second career hat trick, Logan Couture’s return to the lineup can’t be overlooked in terms of how the young star’s presence completely changes the Sharks’ overall game. He’s one of the better do-it-all players in the NHL, has a contagious, hard-working attitude on the ice that seems to rub off on his teammates, and may even be extra motivated after being left off of the Canadian Olympic team (although he denied that on Thursday morning).
Against the Flyers, Couture had two goals, probably should have been credited with a third, and now has 16 goals and 37 points in 44 games this season.
[RECAP: Sharks explode out of break]
He described them both: “The first one was just off a faceoff play that we’ve run a lot this year. Patty [Marleau] made a good shot. It’s tough to get that one on net, and I was able to whack home the rebound. The second one, just a lucky bounce. Tried to make a pass to Tommy [Wingels], and was able to follow up the rebound and put it in.”
It looked like Couture completed a hat trick himself in the third period, but the War Room in Toronto decided the puck didn’t cross the goal line after an absurdly long video review. Couture watched several replays of it on a monitor between the benches, and had a smirk on his face after it was deemed to be not a goal.
He didn’t like it, and is still searching for his first career NHL hat trick.
“I saw a goal. I don’t know how that’s not a goal. I’ll have to find out, I’d like to find out why that isn’t a goal,” Couture said. “I looked at the monitor, saw about 10 times that the puck was over the line. Just don’t understand how they don’t count that,” he said.
The Sharks managed to go 10-6 with Couture out due to a right hand injury, which is an impressive feat in itself. Still, the club struggled to find consistent offense without the 24-year-old, scoring just nine goals in the last seven games before the break.
Marleau sorely missed his centerman, and the Sharks were reliant on a top line of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Pavelski, none of whom produced at a high rate in early February. Part of that could have been a general sense of malaise about the team as it cruised into the Olympic break, but Couture’s absence played a huge role in the dry spell.
There’s little doubt Couture will regain his form from earlier in the season, as he’s always been one of the most dedicated and hardest working players on the Sharks’ roster, on and off the ice.
Despite the performance Thursday night, he admitted he didn’t feel 100 percent in his first game since Jan. 5 in Chicago. It will take some time to get back to speed.
“Not great. But, I expected that,” he said. “Kind of felt a little sluggish, kind of like I was in a fog. Feet and brain were moving a little slow. Kind of felt better in the third.”
Todd McLellan had no qualms with the dominant win, including Couture’s output.
“It’s nice to play like that. It’s nice to see Logan back in the lineup, as well,” he said.