NHL Gameday: Couture fine; Meier to make debut against Habs

NHL Gameday: Couture fine; Meier to make debut against Habs

Programming note – Sharks-Canadiens coverage starts today at 4:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 18-11-1, 37 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canadiens: 19-6-4, 42 points, 1st Atlantic Division


***Timo Meier will make his NHL debut, skating on the third line with Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, after he was recalled on Thursday. He arrived in the Montreal area at approximately 5 p.m. yesterday evening.

“First game, obviously real special,” Meier said. “Something that you’ve been working on your whole life. Once the moment is here, obviously you’re real excited. I’m just looking forward to tonight, and I want to take it shift by shift and just go out there and have fun.”

Pete DeBoer said: “Just want him to get through the first game without feeling too nervous, and jump in with both feet and go to work. He’s a good player, he belongs up here.”

Meier will be the third Sharks player to make his NHL debut this season. The first two, Danny O’Regan and Kevin Labanc, were forced to take solo laps around the rink in warmups. Does Meier expect the same treatment?

“Yeah, I think I’m a little prepared for that,” he said. “It’s a fun moment.”

***Logan Couture is fine to play after he left Wednesday’s game in Ottawa in the third period after getting cross-checked in the back of the head by the Sens’ Mike Hoffman. Couture gave his perspective of the play, and what happened next after he had to be helped off of the ice.

“I never said a word to that guy (Hoffman) in my life," Couture said. "I didn’t hit him at all during the game. I shoved him on the entry there, and I was going to the net to look for someone to pick up, and the next thing I know I’m getting hit in the back of the head. 

“When it first happened, I didn’t know what hit me, if the puck had possibly hit me or accidentally one of our guys. Until I saw the replay and saw the guy skates around the zone and cross-checks me in the back of the head – I was stunned. 

“Then, afterwards, just have to go through all the concussion protocol and everything. I spent time with their doctor, and thankfully I was lucky.”

Hoffman had a hearing with the league on Friday morning to determine whether there will be any supplemental discipline. DeBoer believes a suspension is warranted.

“I don’t have an opinion on what number of games, but it’s definitely a suspendable offense,” said the coach. “There’s no doubt about that.”

***Donskoi will also return to the Sharks lineup, after it was confirmed by DeBoer that he was a healthy scratch against Ottawa. Joel Ward will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season against Montreal. Both players have just two goals.

***Montreal is without two of its centers. Top liner Alex Galchenyuk, who was having a breakout season with 23 points in 25 games, and David Desharnais will each miss the next five-to-seven weeks with knee injuries. 


Sharks: Timo Meier. The ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft – and the best Sharks prospect in a long time – is set to make his NHL debut tonight. Meier has nine goals, 15 points and a plus-eight rating in 17 games with the AHL Barracuda, and brings a big body (six-foot-three, 210 pounds) along with tremendous offensive skill. 

Canadiens: Torrey Mitchell. The popular former Sharks forward has found a home in Montreal, and is currently skating as the Canadiens’ third line center. In his last three games, Mitchell has four points (2g, 2a). In 11 career games against the Sharks, the 31-year-old has one goal.


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen – Phillip Danault – Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron – Torrey Mitchell – Brendan Gallagher
Daniel Carr – Brian Flynn – Michael McCarron

Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu – Zach Redmond

Carey Price (starter)
Al Montoya


Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk (knee), David Desharnais (knee) and Greg Pateryn (fractured ankle) are out.


“I want to bring my game, my strengths. I want to play with a lot of energy, and do the little details right. Just play the game the right way.” – Timo Meier

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


SAN JOSE -- Seconds after almost costing the San Jose Sharks a game with a turnover, Logan Couture ended it with his backhand.

Couture scored 39 seconds into overtime after getting bailed out by goalie Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks won their season-high sixth straight game, 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

"I was able to make a move on their guy," Couture said. "(Marc-Edouard Vlasic) did a good job of driving their backchecker back and I was able to go far side."

Couture's goal came at the end of an opening shift of the overtime that started with him losing the puck in his own zone, giving Jonathan Marchessault a chance alone in front. Jones got enough of the shot to stop it, and then Vlasic sent the puck ahead to Couture for the winning goal that moved San Jose within seven points of first-place Vegas with eight games remaining in the regular season.

Brent Burns also scored and Jones made 24 saves to help the Sharks open a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with a game in hand as the Sharks close in on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"For us to get a win tonight was important," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Plus, just plant that seed. If we stay hot, you never know, we might be able to catch them and get home ice. We took care of business tonight and we'll try to keep playing well."

Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights, who were kept in the game by a sterling performance by goalie Malcolm Subban. He stopped 42 shots but it wasn't enough for Vegas to come up with the win, although he helped earn a point that gave the expansion team 100 this season.

"It's impressive," forward James Neal said. "It's a great season for our guys. Guys came together real quick. A great job so far but we're not done yet."

The Golden Knights struck first on a pretty passing play early in the first period that ended when Marchessault found Tatar cutting through the slot ahead of Justin Braun. Tatar skated past Jones and backhanded the puck into the open net.

Vegas has been dominant when getting off to a lead, posting an NHL-best 31-5-1 record when scoring first heading into this game. But the Sharks carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Golden Knights 18-4 and getting the equalizer on a blast by Burns from the point after another strong shift by San Jose's fourth line.

"We want to be playing really good hockey this time of year and heading into the playoffs. I think that's the goal," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whether we would have won tonight or lost, I like how we played for most of the game, so that's what I'm concentrating on."

Vegas managed to keep it tied despite the lopsided shot totals, killing off a four-minute penalty to Colin Miller and another late power play that started late in the second.

That penalty carried over until the third period and the Sharks got 25 seconds of a two-man advantage after Brayden McNabb was called for throwing his stick but still couldn't get anything past Subban.

The Golden Knights squandered a power-play chance later in the period when Miller was called for cross checking with the man advantage. That nearly led to a power-play goal for San Jose but Subban appeared to get a piece of a shot from in close to Joe Pavelski to keep the game tied at 1.

"He's the main reason we got the point," coach Gerard Gallant said. "He looked comfortable."

NOTES: Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury didn't make the trip to San Jose with an undisclosed injury but is expected to join the team for Saturday's game in Colorado. ... Burns became the 15th player to play 500 career games with the Sharks.

Golden Knights: Visit Colorado on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Calgary on Saturday.


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.