Sharks

Logan Couture's golden goal gives Sharks Game 2 win vs Golden Knights

Logan Couture's golden goal gives Sharks Game 2 win vs Golden Knights

BOX SCORE

The Sharks blew a third-period lead, but salvaged a 4-3 double overtime win in Game 2 of their second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday. Logan Couture scored the game-winner on the power play with 14:47 remaining in the second overtime, tying the series 1-1.

Timo Meier drew a hooking penalty on Jon Merrill with 14:55 remaining in the second extra frame, and Couture capitalized. 

San Jose rallied from a two-goal deficit with three, second-period goals, but Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt tied the game with 6:32 remaining in regulation. Jonathan Marchessault appeared to win the game with about three minutes remaining in the first overtime, but the goal was overturned when a review in the Situation Room in Toronto determined he interfered with Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. 

Evander Kane missed the game due to a suspension stemming from a major cross-checking penalty in Game 1, but San Jose's offense did not miss a beat without him. Brent Burns and Couture each scored twice, and Couture's winner was his team-leading fourth of the postseason. 

San Jose trailed 2-0 just 20:26 into regulation, despite largely outplaying Vegas. The Sharks had 16 five-on-five shot attempts to the Golden Knights' 10 during that stretch, but trailed by two thanks to a pair of defensive zone turnovers leading to William Karlsson's second and third goals of the playoffs. 

Tensions boiled over, and the rivalry between the NHL's 22nd and 31st teams shfted from 'hypothetical' to 'very real.' San Jose and Vegas combined for 15 penalties and 30 penalty minutes. That included four sets of matching minors. 

The win was San Jose's first in four tries at T-Mobile Arena dating back to the regular season. 

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Logan Couture's fifth career multi-goal playoff game could not have come at a better time for the Sharks. He tied the game in the second period, and sealed the split in the second overtime.

He also led the team with seven shots on goal, and only Brent Burns had more shot attempts (17) than Couture (13).

SPECIAL TEAMS

Sharks: 2-for-7 on the power play, 2-for-2 on the penalty kill

Golden Knights: 0-for-2 on the power play; 5-for-7 on the penalty kill

San Jose scored more power play goals against Vegas in Game 2 than the Los Angeles Kings did in four first-round games.

IN GOAL

Sharks: Martin Jones only stopped 26 of 29 shots, but stopped all nine he faced in both overtimes. His kick save on Jonathan Marchessault, plus his denial of a wide-open James Neal with the knob of his stick, stood out as key saves during the first overtime to preserve the tie.

Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals, and opted not to freeze the puck before the turnover leading to Couture's game-tying goal. But, he stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced from the third period onward, and ensured the Golden Knights had an opportunity to tie the game. 

TURNING POINT

Mikkel Boedker drew a high-sticking penalty 1:35 into the second overtime. The Sharks did not score on the power play, but they held on to the puck for most of the fifth frame, and were able to manage enough zone time to draw their second penalty of the second overtime.

INJURY UPDATE

Sharks: Barclay Goodrow (finger) played his first game since March 27 with Kane suspended. San Jose made no other lineup changes, meaning Joe Thornton missed his 41st consecutive game. 

Golden Knights: Vegas made no lineup changes from Game 1. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The series now heads to SAP Center for Games 3 and 4. Coverage of Monday night's Game 3 begins on NBC Sports California at 6:30 p.m. with 'Sharks Playoff Central.' Game 3 can be seen on NBCSN at 7, followed by a postgame edition of 'Sharks Playoff Central' on NBC Sports California immediately following. 

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

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AP

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

The ice got a little hot Tuesday night in San Jose. Towards the end of the Sharks' 5-2 blowout loss against the Capitals, tempers began to flare. 

Sharks winger Evander Kane was ejected for elbowing Washington defenseman Radko Gudas in the head with slightly over five minutes left in the third period. Gudas' teammates Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin each took exception, with Wilson hitting Kane. 

Kane and Wilson were seen chirping all the way to their respective benches, with Kane exiting the game.

It didn't stop there, too. Sharks center Joe Thornton chimed in before Wilson hit him with a "kiss the ring" comeback. 

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

Kane avoided suspension, but received the maximum fine of $5,000 for his hit on Gudas. 

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Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

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AP

Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

Just four days into December, the Sharks are facing a new level of adversity. They suffered a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night and are dealing with some injuries at forward that are keeping the position in flux.

To top it all off, San Jose is about to begin a four-game road trip, three games of which are against Eastern Conference teams. And the last time the Sharks went on a roadie out east, things didn't exactly go well.

In order for the Sharks to keep their good fortunes going, they must pass this test.

"Good teams, tough buildings, a big test," head coach Peter DeBoer said after Tuesday's loss when asked about the upcoming trip. "Our last time on an extended trip we didn't handle it well. So, hopefully, we're in a different place this time."

When you look at the big picture, the Sharks are in a better place than they were at the end of October, when they went 1-3-1 on their east-coast swing. San Jose staged a big rebound in November, showing it could win games in different ways and stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone. After going 4-8-1 in October, the Sharks went 11-4-0 in November and reinserted themselves back into the pack with the other competitive Pacific Division teams.

Nevertheless, the Sharks' upcoming trip -- which kicks off Thursday in Carolina against the Hurricanes and includes a back-to-back against the Lightning and Panthers -- isn't going to be a cakewalk. After the rough outing San Jose's defense had Tuesday against the Capitals, the trip looks even more daunting.

"It's not getting any easier," Brenden Dillon admitted Tuesday. "We're going into some tough buildings. A couple of back-to-backs here with Tampa and Florida. I think we're seeing if we don't play to our identity, if we don't play the right way, what happens."

The Sharks' defense isn't the only area of concern following the loss to Washington. San Jose was starting to see some production from its bottom six at the end of November, but injuries to Tomas Hertl and Antti Suomela are forcing the Sharks to shuffle up their lines yet again. Even with fourth-liners Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor finding their stride and contributing more, San Jose's mission to have a four-line team on the ice every night remains an ongoing project.

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

This isn't to say that the Sharks can't rebound from their loss to the Capitals and have a successful road trip. Their resilience was on display just last week when they bounced back from a tough loss to the Jets to win back-to-back games against the Kings and Coyotes. Plus, Carolina is the only team on the trip that currently has more points than San Jose, and the Hurricanes have lost three of their last four games, including a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. 

Still, though, the Sharks can't afford to play as they did against the Caps on their upcoming road trip. San Jose is about to encounter a major test, and class is in session starting Thursday.