Sharks' Logan Couture avoids scare, returns to team in time of need

Sharks' Logan Couture avoids scare, returns to team in time of need

The Sharks have been below .500 since Dec. 10, but you can trace the true death knell of San Jose's season back to the fractured ankle Logan Couture sustained in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 7.

Prior to that defeat, the Sharks were finding their stride, earning five out of a possible six points over their previous three games, all on the road. San Jose actually prevailed in its first two games after Couture's injury, but would go on to lose five of the next six, all but vanquishing what little playoff hopes the Sharks had left. It didn't help matters that Tomas Hertl tore ligaments in his knee during that stretch, as well.

Hertl was ruled out for the season. Couture, on the other hand, returned from a 17-game absence in San Jose's 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

Couture didn't figure into the scoring, but that's understandable considering it has been nearly seven weeks since he last practiced. He wasn't able to do so prior to Tuesday's loss, but interim coach Bob Boughner was glad regardless to have the Sharks' captain back in the lineup.

"It was nice to see his name on the board," Boughner told reporters at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. "After morning skate, he felt that there was a chance he could play. Obviously, he's still getting his feet underneath him. His game speed is off. He's still saying that he had two or three chances to score goals tonight, so it was good to see him back."

Arguably more important than the outcome of the game was the fact that Couture emerged from it relatively unscathed. He did get a brief scare late in the second period when he went to the locker room after taking a shot to the foot, but he was back on the ice for the start of the third.

True to character, Couture was his own harshest critic following the loss, pointing the finger at himself for the frustrating outcome.

"I wish I played a little bit better, but I'm OK," Couture explained. "It's disappointing because if I score those goals or those chances, we're probably still playing right now. So, tough one."

Couture described his best scoring chance as missing "by seven feet", and admitted the lack of practice time likely played into that. However, the captain understood his team needed him, even if he wasn't in top form.

"I was cleared," Couture said. "I still haven't gotten in a practice, so my hands I knew weren't going to be great, but I figured it's been a rough couple days."

[RELATED: Wilson excited to see what Sharks' young players can do]

Couture, obviously, was referring to the passing of the NHL trade deadline, which saw several of his longtime teammates -- Brenden Dillon, Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow -- head to Eastern Conference contenders. The draft picks San Jose got back in those trades should help the franchise eventually return to contention, but in the meantime, it might be a tad lonely in the Sharks' locker room.

Less so now that Couture's back, at least.

Sharks' Logan Couture hopes Joe Thornton returns after coronavirus break

Sharks' Logan Couture hopes Joe Thornton returns after coronavirus break

The NHL’s indefinite suspension amid the coronavirus outbreak has impacted players, coaches, executives and fans in a major way.

Although the league has made no official announcements regarding the potential resumption of the 2019-20 season, every passing day makes just picking things back up and playing less and less likely.

For veteran players nearing the end of their careers, this could have been their final chance at a postseason run.

“It’s tough for Patty [Marleau] because he had a legit chance in Pittsburgh,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said in an interview with NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “I look at this selfishly for Jumbo, hoping that he does come back with us next year.

“You know it saves an extra 12 games on those legs and that body of wear and tear, I know he’s gonna get a little bit older, but I think saving some time on that body will help us if he does come back with the Sharks, which I know we’re all hoping that he does.”

[RELATED: Burns' 2017 OT winner should've given Sharks playoff spark]

Marleau was dealt from San Jose to the Penguins at the trade deadline of his 22nd NHL season, with Pittsburgh was right in the thick of the playoff chase. Marleau also was just eight games from moving into fourth all-time in career NHL games played, currently held by Ron Francis (1,731).

Thornton came back to the Sharks in September for his 22nd season, surpassing the 1,500 assist mark in his 1,619th NHL game.

If we don’t end up finishing the 2019-20 NHL season, hopefully Sharks fans and Couture get their wish and can have at least one more season of Jumbo skating out onto the ice at SAP Center.

Sharks' Evander Kane recounts favorite memories of San Jose tenure

Sharks' Evander Kane recounts favorite memories of San Jose tenure

In his time with the Sharks, winger Evander Kane has been a part of some special moments.

Kane has 65 goals through 156 games in San Jose, providing playoff glory as well as spending quite a bit of time in the penalty box.

When asked what his favorite experience has been during his time in Northern California, Kane didn’t need much time to think about it.

“Team moment, definitely last year, Game 7 against Vegas,” Kane told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That Game 7 against Vegas last year was something that anyone who watched that game or played that game will never forget, so that was pretty special.

“I’d say as an individual, probably scoring my first hat-trick that ended up being a four-goal game two weeks after getting traded to San Jose, that was pretty awesome.”

Talk about great memories for Sharks fans.

[RELATED: With 400th goal, Jumbo joined group of Hall of Famers]

NBC Sports California’s Marcus White was at SAP Center covering that epic playoff showdown between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights, and recently went into detail on some of the best easter eggs from the comeback.

Kane and the rest of his Sharks teammates now have quite a bit of time to reflect on positive memories, as the NHL season remains indefinitely suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak.