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Couture has career night in win over Pens
Sharks captain record 5 points in 6-4 victory
1/28/2023 - By Mike Lee

Logan Couture is the Sharks captain. The role of the captain can vary by team, but what's consistent from team to team is that there is an expectation that a team's captain is supposed to lead by example. Sharks captain Logan Couture did that about as well as could be expected on Saturday night in Pittsburgh as the Sharks picked themselves up off the mat after a horrific loss in Carolina 24 hours earlier. Couture turned his first career 5-point night to lead the Sharks to a wild 6-4 win over the host Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Couture carried the Sharks, providing the primary assist on three goals, then adding a pair of tallies late. Those goals turned out to be the game winner, and the insurance the Sharks needed late. After surrendering 2 goals to the Hurricanes in the last 1:37 of the game on Friday, nothing was guaranteed, but when Couture bagged an empty net goal with 9.3 seconds left in regulation, the Sharks had locked up their first win in 5 games.

This was a back and forth, knock-down slugfest.

Mikey Eyssimont opened the game's scoring just 1:25 into the game. Marc-Edouard Vlasic bounced the puck off the end boards with a dump-in from the left side. Couture pursued it behind the Penguins net and floated a pass out to the front of the net where Eyssimont was cutting for the tap in chance that beat Pittsburgh goaltender Casey DeSmith. The goal gave Eyssimont tallies in back to back games for the first time as a Shark.

Newly acquired defenseman Jacob MacDonald was sent off for holding at 5:37, which setup a Penguins goal just 8 seconds later. Evgeni Malkin punched home a shot from the doorstep after Rickard Rakell kept the puck alive with a pass from his knees on the left side. Malkin was lurking off the right post and had Kahkonen caught out of position.

Evgeny Svechnikov's slashing penalty at 12:46 setup a second power play goal. This one took 9 seconds into the man-advantage. Malkin pumped a shot from the top of the right circle, which Kahkonen defended, but the puck landed right on Crosby's stick for the easy tap in. The goal gave Pittsburgh 10 power play goals in their last 7 games.

The sharks have been victims of last second goals all too often this season, but they turned the tables to close out the opening period when Erik Karlsson scored with 7 seconds left in the frame. The Sharks and half the Penguins on the ice pursued a puck that was trickling around the left dot, when Alexander Barabnov collected it and sent a pass to the front of the net where Karlsson was staging for the easy tap in.

Noah Gregor put the Sharks back in the lead 4:54 into the 2nd period on a put-back chance after Couture sent a shot in on net from the left side. In a rules oddity, Gregor was caught inside the Penguins zone after the puck had been cleared, but since the Penguins pushed the puck back into their own zone, Gregor was not offside, allowing the goal to stand.

Ryan Poehling knotted the game up at 3-3 exactly 10 minutes after Gregor's goal. The bigger issue was that it came on a Sharks power play after Jake Guentzel was sent off for slashing Matt Benning. Brian Dumoulin intercepted a puck in the right corner then sent a lead pass to Poehling at the Penguins blueline. Poehling and Brock McGinn raced up ice with only Couture back to defend. Poehling skated in on the right wing, taking a look at McGinn before wristing a shot past Kahkonen for his 5th goal of the season.

Barabanov helped San Jose reclaim the lead just over 2 minutes later off a long shot from the blueline. Barabanov's shot clipped Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel in front of the net, which changed the trajectory enough to cross up DeSmith. The goal was Barabanov's 7th of the season.

Malkin made it a 4-4 game midway through the 3rd period to tie the game for the third time in the contest. Malkin stepped in front of a clearing attempt by Kahkonen at the top of the right circle. The puck kicked over to Jeff Petry on the right wing boards, who dropped it to Malkin on his left. The Penguins assistant captain took a stride toward the net and lifted a shot that found a seam through traffic for his 19th tally of the season.

With the Penguins repeatedly coming back in this one and the Sharks delicate mindset following the loss to the Hurricanes, it would have been easy for San Jose to simply pack it in. The Penguins were awarded a power play with 8 minutes to play after Evgeny Svechnikov was whistled for holding. The Sharks killed the penalty, and it was time for Couture to work his magic.

Kahkonen denied a prime scoring chance with a kick save on Teddy Blueger. The Sharks captain then came up big with 4:25 remaining in regulation when he deposited a put-back chance from just outside the right post. Barabanov carried a loose puck into the Penguins zone with only Petry back to defend. The young Russian carried the puck to the left post then dropped the puck to a trailing Couture who put shot on goal from in tight. DeSmith stopped the first chance, but Couture poked at the rebound, depositing his 18th goal of the season.

More importantly, it gave the Sharks the lead that mattered. Pittsburgh made things interesting by turning up the heat on Kahkonen in the last 3 minutes, but the Sharks netminder stood tall. He would finish with 37 saves.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan pulled DeSmith with 1:47 to play, but the Sharks found a way to keep Pittsburgh at bay until Couture bagged an empty netter late.

Game Notes:

* Kevin Labanc and Scott Harrington were both scratched but it was unclear is they were health related or not. A flu bug has been making the rounds through the Sharks locker room, but it wasn't clear if Labanc had earned the benching or not.

* With his assist on Evgeni Malkin's 1st period power-play goal, Sidney Crosby passed Stan Mikita for sole possession of 15th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list. He extended that with a power play goal of his own 7 minutes after Malkin's goal.

* Nico Sturm was leveled with a suspect hit by Jason Zucker with 6:45 to play. Zucker came in high with an elbow to Sturm's head. The Sharks forward skated to the locker room and did not return.

* Mikey Eyssiont is suddenly making himself a fixture on the Sharks offense. The waiver claim scored a goal for the second straight game, but also recorded 8 shots on goal to lead San Jose. He was also second on the team in hits on Saturday night with 5.

* Logan Couture became the second oldest player to record his first 5-point game in NHL history. The oldest is former Sharks captain Joe Pavelski who was 37 years old and 185 days when he did it for Dallas in 2022.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 2 2 6
PIT 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Eyssimont 3 (Couture, Vlasic), 1:25. 2, PIT, Malkin 18 (Rakell, Crosby), 5:45, (pp). 3, PIT, Crosby 24 (Malkin, Guentzel), 12:55, (pp). 4, SJ, Karlsson 16 (Barabanov, Lorentz), 19:53.
2nd period - 5, SJ, Gregor 3 (Couture), 4:54. 6, PIT, Poehling 5 (Dumoulin), 14:54, (sh). 7, SJ, Barabanov 7 (Couture, Benning), 17:07.
3rd period - 8, PIT, Malkin 19 (Petry), 10:06. 9, SJ, Couture 18 (Barabanov, Vlasic), 15:35. 10, SJ, Couture 19 (Karlsson), 19:50, (en).
1st period - MacDonald, SJ (holding), 5:37; Svechnikov, SJ (slashing), 12:46.
2nd period - Malkin, PIT (hooking), 1:21; Gadjovich, SJ (fighting major), 7:49; Pettersson, PIT (fighting major), 7:49; Guentzel, PIT (slashing), 14:15; Eyssimont, SJ (holding), 19:41.
3rd period - Svechnikov, SJ (holding), 11:35.
Shots Saves
SJ - Kahkonen 41 37
PIT - DeSmith 31 26
PIT - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 13 8 32
PIT 12 10 19 41
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
PIT 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Evgeni Malkin
Alexander Barabanov
PPG Paints Arena - 18,417
Referees: #20 Mitch Dunning, #21 TJ Luxmore. Linesmen: #55 Kyle Flemington, #93 Kilian McNamara .

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