SAN JOSE – Logan Couture didn’t skate against the Kings on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, but that sure didn’t mean he was feeling all that energetic to play against the Lightning on Thursday.
The 27-year-old center had a pretty rough start to his week. He was unable to finish Monday’s game against Winnipeg, and then couldn’t go on the quick road trip to Southern California on Tuesday, either.
We’ll let him explain.
"I wasn't feeling too well during the [Winnipeg] game, had an IV during that game, and came off. Didn't have enough energy to finish that game. Went home. Started throwing up a bunch and actually went to the hospital, got a couple more IVs. Slept that night, didn't make it through the night, threw up a couple more times. Didn't really get any sleep, so I talked to [Sharks trainer Ray Tufts] and he told me to stay home, and not come on the trip.
"Didn't get any food in my throat for about 48 hours. It was a tough little stretch, and finally yesterday I was able to get back to normal. I think it was just a stomach bug, but it hit pretty hard. I think I lost six pounds. So, it was a tough couple days.”
Despite all that, Couture managed to have an impact in the Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Lightning. And not just a minor impact, either, as he scored the game-winning goal early in the third period in a game in which the Sharks as a team were understandably sluggish at times but still found a way.
"I thought he was excellent. Gutsy effort by him coming back in,” said coach Pete DeBoer, who slightly limited Couture’s minutes.
The winning goal came when Couture’s linemates, Kevin Labanc and Joonas Donskoi, fought for a loose puck behind the Tampa Bay net. Labanc managed to poke it to Couture, who had pushed away from Tyler Johnson and found just enough space inside the far post with his shot to break a 1-1 tie on the opening shift of the third period.
Goalie Aaron Dell made it hold up, making some clutch third period saves on Ondrej Palat and Valtteri Filppula, in particular.
After allowing a bad goal in Calgary last week that cost the Sharks at least one point in the standings, Dell was outstanding on a night that his teammates needed him.
"I've given up a lot of goals in my life. I think it's pretty easy to let it go now, but I really wanted to come back and make a good impression after that,” he said.
Ryan Carpenter, familiar with Dell from their days on the Barracuda together last season, said: “He made some big saves tonight. That’s just what he does. Whenever he plays, he always does well somehow. It’s nice to be a part of it, and see him get that one tonight.”
Carpenter played a role, too, getting the Sharks a 1-0 lead with his second career NHL goal five minutes into the middle frame. He was the beneficiary of a long shift by the Sharks in the Tampa Bay end, firing in a Paul Martin feed off of Nikita Nesterov’s leg.
"That was just off a line change,” DeBoer said. “He got out there a little bit early and made a great play. Big goal for us."
The Sharks were in survival mode earlier in the game, one day after recording one of their more satisfying, complete wins of the season over the rival Kings. Tampa Bay recorded eight of the first nine shots on goal, and San Jose was having particular trouble moving the puck out of their own end and through the neutral zone.
After Carpenter’s goal, and a remarkable power play score by Jonathan Drouin tied it, the message in the dressing room in the second intermission was to go out and win the third period.
"Guys did a good job in the locker room going out in the third and just understanding what’s at stake," Joe Pavelski said. "There’s two big points, it doesn’t matter your opponent that you’re playing, you’ve got to go find it."
They did, courtesy of Couture, even if his pads were a little looser than normal from his sudden and unexpected diet.