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WCSF Game 3: Couture big night leads SJ
Forward records 6th playoff hat trick in Sharks history
4/30/19 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks Western Conference Semi Final series shifted to Denver on Tuesday night, and as has been the case in the first two games, the score was a tightly contested game. San Jose allowed the host Colorado Avalanche to overcome a 2-goal deficit, but Logan Couture stepped up as a team leader and recorded his first career playoff hat trick to lead San Jose to a 4-2 victory. Martin Jones made 25 saves and has suddenly turned his season around, which couldn't come at a better time for the Sharks.

After losing Game 2 and home ice advantage, the Sharks reclaimed that advantage with their Game 3 win. They also overcame the vaunted altitude that is a real issue for athletes who don't train at elevation. The Sharks looked as if they would buckle in the 3rd period after dominating the first two periods.

San Jose found a second wind after Couture scored the second of this three goals with 7:10 left in regulation. With captain Joe Pavelski on the shelf, Couture filled the leadership void and made a statement. There's no doubt he's part of the core leadership of this team and his performance proved it.

Much like Game 2, the Sharks were awarded a pair of power play chances in the opening period. They also misfired on both chances as they did on Sunday night. Evander Kane helped to shorten the second chance, when he took a high sticking penalty himself at 10:22 of the period.

The Sharks persisted with a quality forecheck in the last half of the period, which paid dividends at the 15:24 mark. Gus Nyquist and Timo Meier fought the puck to the front of the net where Logan Couture tried to put a shot past Phillip Grubauer. The Avalanche netminder made the initial save, but Couture drew the rebound back to his backhand, where he lifted it home from the doorstep.

Erik Johnson turned the puck over with a long pass attempt that Timo Meier intercepted just outside the Sharks blueline with under 2 minutes to play in the period. The Sharks forward then raced up ice, catching Johnson flat-footed just inside the Avalanche zone before side-stepping to his left and uncorking a shot that beat Grubauer for the 2-0 lead.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic just missed making it a 3-0 game 3 minutes into the 2nd period, when he unloaded on a shot from the blueline. Grubauer had to reach above his shoulders to try and make the stop, but his glove chance bounced out and hit the crossbar.

Evander Kane missed on another golden opportunity with 10:46 left in the period when Marcus Sorensen chipped a lead pass that ended in a breakaway from Kane. The Sharks forward tried to deek to his right, but Grubauer shut the door.

Brendan Dillon then setup a Colorado power play when he tried pinching Gabriel Bourque on the right boards on a dump and chase attempt. The Avalanche came close by ringing a shot off the right post, then held the puck in the San Jose zone for a good minute after the penalty expired because the Sharks defenders were gassed in the long end.

The prolonged zone time ended when Alexander Kerfoot was called for interference. Rather than build on their lead, the Sharks got lazy and paid for it. Brent Burns tried to make a long pass up ice, identical to the Johnson gaff earlier in the game. Ian Cole intercepted it then fed Nathan MacKinnon who raced up ice, beat Burns then rifled a shot past Martin Jones to cut the Sharks lead to 2-1.

Melker Karlsson opened the 3rd period with yet another shot that rang off the iron. 1:45 into the frame.

The Sharks got too defensive later in the period, playing back in their zone to try and defend their one-goal lead. That proved costly as former Sharks forward Matt Nieto converted to tie the game at 11:45 of the period. Erik Karlsson failed to clear the zone, allowing the Avalanche to cycle the puck up to the left point. Samuel Girard threw the puck to the front of the net, where Nieto was parked. Nieto got a stick on the puck, deflecting it down to the ice and past Jones.

Couture answered 65 seconds later when he whipped a shot from the right side, beating Grubauer. The Avalanche tried to clear the puck up the right wing boards, but Nyquist intercepted the puck at the blueline. The Swede whipped a pass back to Couture who remained in the right corner. Couture took a line to the top of the crease but snapped a shot that beat Grubauer near side, hitting the far post for his 8th goal of the playoffs.

Colorado clanked a shot off the post with 4:25 left in regulation after a shot pin-balled off a pair of sticks in front of Jones.

Couture was called for tripping with 2:56 left in regulation to really make things interesting. The Sharks killed the power play, leaving less than a minute for the Avalanche to try and even things up.

Kane missed on an empty net chance with 45 seconds remaining, but Couture drove the final nail in the coffin with his hat-trick goal at 19:30.

Game Notes:

* Gus Nyquist and his wife welcomed a baby girl, Charlotte on Monday. Nyquist hopped on a plane to Denver and arrived at the Pepsi center at 3pm. He celebrated by recording a pair of assists in the game.

* With the win, the Sharks snapped Colorado's 8-game home winning streak. The Avalanche last lost at the Pepsi on March 15th in a 5-3 decision to the Anaheim Ducks.

* Since 2010, Logan Couture has 43 playoff goals. That ranks him 2nd behind Alex Ovechkin (50 goals), and ahead of Sidny Crosby (42 goals), Patrick Kane (41 goals) and Joe Pavelski (40 goals).

* Logan Couture's playoff hat trick is the 6th in Sharks team history. Patrick Marleau has 3, Ulf Dahlen has 1 and Devin Setoguchi has 1.

* Brent Burns led all skaters with 28:27 of ice time. His wear and tear were evident in the 3rd period when the Sharks were called for too many men. Burns couldn't get off the ice fast enough. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is leaning on his big defenseman, but at what cost. The Sharks aren't even half way to their goal.

* Timo Meier stepped up big time, but recording a goal and two assists to match Couture's 3-point night. Even though the Sharks scored 4 goals, only Meier, Couture, Gus Nyquit and Melker Karlsson were the only Shark players to record points.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 2 0 2 4
COL 0 1 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Couture 7 (Meier, Nyquist), 15:24. 2, SJ, Meier 3 (unassisted), 18:42.
2nd period - 3, COL, MacKinnon 5 (Cole), 15:51, (sh).
3rd period - 4, COL, Nieto 4 (Girard, Makar), 11:45. 5, SJ, Couture 8 (Nyquist), 12:50. 6, SJ, Couture 9 (M. Karlsson), 19:30, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Nieto, COL (holding), 4:55; Cole, COL (interfernce), 9:02; Kane, SJ (high sticking), 10:22.
2nd period - Cole, COL (high sticking), 5:06; Dillon, SJ (interference), 10:48; Kerfoot, COL (interference), 13:51.
3rd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 6:02; Couture, SJ (tripping), 17:04.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 27 25
COL - Grubauer 30 27
COL - empy net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 13 5 31
COL 7 9 11 27
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 4
COL 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Phillip Grubauer
Timo Meier
Attendance
Pepsi Center - 18,106
Officials
Referees: Charron, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Cormier, Murphy.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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