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Sharks coach Bob Boughner went to zoo day after 'Marathon on Ice' game

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Sharks coach Bob Boughner went to zoo day after 'Marathon on Ice' game

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, will shine a fresh light on some of the most remarkable moments in sports. The fourth episode tells the story of the "Marathon on Ice" between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

May 5, 2000. For some, it was the first Cinco de Mayo of the 21st Century. For Bob Boughner, it was supposed to be a day at the zoo with his family, but he never expected to be as tired as he was. 

Boughner, the Sharks' current head coach, was a defenseman at the time for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The night before, his Penguins were facing the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh. That game went just a tad longer than he planned. 

Boughner played 50 minutes and had 66 shifts in the Penguins' 2-1 loss over five (!) overtimes. 

"I did have kids in the stands at that point and time," Boughner remembered on the latest "Sports Uncovered" podcast. "They were all young. They were obviously taken home in the second or third overtime, it was just too late.

"You could look into the stands, even as a player and there were little kids sleeping on their parents."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The Penguins lost Game 5 three days later, and lost the series in six games. Boughner played 177 regular-season games in his NHL career and another 65 in the playoffs. There's no doubt he never will forget the "Marathon on Ice" in Pittsburgh. 

He also can't forget that tiresome next day at the zoo.

"I had plans, it was the day after the next day, we had plans to take the kids to the Pittsburgh Zoo," Boughner said. "I’ll never forget getting home about four in the morning and you know little kids are up at seven or eight o’clock. How tired I was walking around the zoo the next day with a bunch of kids and just trying to stay awake.

"It wasn’t only mentally draining but physically."

What Evander Kane hopes to teach young Sharks for rest of lost season

What Evander Kane hopes to teach young Sharks for rest of lost season

The Sharks are as baby-faced as it gets after the NHL trade deadline. 

Brenden Dillon, Barclay Goodrow and Patrick Marleau no longer are walking through San Jose's locker-room door after being traded to the Eastern Conference. A cadre of rookies is, however, with six dressing against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at SAP Center.

The youth movement is on with the Sharks entering Thursday's contest 14 points back of the Western Conference's final wild-card spot, and the onus is on San Jose's veterans to lead by example, according to winger Evander Kane. 

"I think that's exactly what you gotta do," Kane told NBC Sports California's Bret Hedican before Thursday's game. "You've just gotta go in there and work hard, do what you do best and just kind of encourage them to play their game. They're all here for a reason, [so] go out there and prove it. Go out there and show it."

The Sharks want Kane to set the example. He was benched during the entirety of the third period of Saturday's loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, starting the next game on a line with depth forwards Alexander True (a rookie) and Stefan Noesen. 

Kane didn't score Sunday or against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, but he did lead the Sharks with nine shots on goal during that time and played more than any other forward (20:43) in the loss to the Flyers. It was exactly what Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner wanted to see. 

“I thought he was good,” Boughner told reporters in Uniondale, New York on Sunday of Kane's performance against the Islanders (via The Athletic). “He had a lot of puck possession, he played the right way. I’d say I was hoping that, but I knew that he’s a guy that has a lot of pride and wants to play hard for his team. I think that’s good that he came back with that kind of showing.”

[RELATED: Jumbo ready to help Sharks after deadline disappointment]

Kane, 28, is in the second year of a seven-year contract extension he signed with the Sharks in 2018 when he passed on testing the market as an unrestricted free agent. Neither he nor San Jose would've envisioned that second season would end without a playoff appearance, but Kane and the Sharks are committed to each other for the long haul. 

He and his fellow veterans will be counted on as teachers for the rest of the season, and the Sharks will need their young players to be quick studies in order to return to the playoffs next spring.

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.