Sharks captain Logan Couture recorded only one multi-goal effort and no power-play goals in 52 games last season.
In just his third game of the 2021 NHL season, Couture accomplished both feats on the same night. Alas, it came in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.
The good news? The Sharks have scored four power-play goals in three games.
San Jose (1-2-0) jumped to an early 2-0 lead when Couture slapped a one-timer past St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington on a power play with 5:42 left in the first period.
“We scored off the rush,” Couture said. “We have an attack mentality this year. We’re trying to get the puck and attack off the net. It forces teams to defend the middle of the ice. I think both of my goals tonight, correct me if I’m wrong, off the rush and off of quick cycles in the neutral zone.”
The Sharks ranked 23rd in the NHL with a 17.46 power-play percentage last season, so the early returns are encouraging.
The bad news? San Jose was outscored 4-1 in the second period, marking the third consecutive game in which the Sharks struggled after the first intermission. Couture said the responsibility falls to the entire team, not just the blueliners.
“I think the big thing right now is having a third forward covering for that [defenseman] if he pinches,” Couture said. “We’re getting caught and giving up too many odd-man rushes. That’s not on the D-men. They’re making the reads and pinching. It’s on us forwards to cover for them and make sure we’re not giving up two-on-ones.”
But the Sharks answered early in the third period, when Couture scored his second goal to make it a tie game. Radim Simek, making his season debut, pushed the pace and eventually was awarded with an assist when Couture deflected one off Binnington for a goal.
As Brodie Brazil of NBC Sports California noted, Couture has enjoyed plenty of success in St. Louis throughout his career.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk started strong in his Sharks debut, weathering numerous early shots to take a two-goal lead into the first intermission, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding to end the game. He eventually surrendered the game-winner to Jordan Kyrou midway through the third period as the Blues moved to 2-1-0.
“Felt good tonight,” Dubnyk said. “It was weird. A little bit of nerves at the start of the game, being with a new group and wanting to play well for them. But I’ve played a lot of games, so those went away pretty quick.”