The Ukiah Daily Journal
Sharks' Couture persevering as playoffs not within reach
This hasn't been an easy season for any member of the San Jose Sharks, who are careening toward a fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs.
But for Logan Couture, perhaps the most clutch playoff performer in Sharks history and one of few remaining connections from the franchise's most successful era, it has been especially difficult.
“It's not an easy situation for him,” Sharks coach David Quinn. “Certainly, the season hasn't gone the way any of us thought it would. He's voiced his frustration to me on a couple of occasions.”
That doesn't mean Couture has stopped competing. Few players love the Sharks organization or care more about the team than the fourth-year captain.
“I've only known him a short period of time but I've got so much respect for him,” Quinn said. “He's a true professional, he's humble, he comes to the rink and works his ass off every day.”
Couture scored the gamewinning goal and had the first five-point game of his NHL career Saturday as the Sharks survived a frantic final few minutes for a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sharks (15-25-11) and allowed them to head into a 10-day break on a positive note.
“He really made sure that we weren't going to lose tonight,” Quinn said.
Couture also had the primary assists on goals by Mikey Eyssimont, Alexander Barabanov, and Noah Gregor. He now has 42 points in 51 games. At 33, his point-per-game average of .82 is his best since the 2018-19 season when he had 70 points in 81 games.
That was also the last year the Sharks made the postseason, the time of year when Couture has usually taken his game to another level. In 101 playoff games from 2011 to 2019, Couture had 97 points, a total surpassed in that time by only one other player — Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
His performance Saturday was one to remember.
“He blocked some big shots and he was great on the penalty kill as well,” Gregor said. “He's our captain for a reason. He was unbelievable.”
On Couture's first goal, he received a pass from Barabanov and put a shot on Penguins goalie Casey Desmith. But Penguins forward Rickard Rakell, trailing the play, crashed into Desmith and took the puck with him across the goal line.
“It's nice to see the puck going in,” Couture said. “Pucks just found the back of the net for us tonight. We've lost a lot of heartbreakers this year, so it's good to see one go our way.”
Couture pumped his fist after the puck crossed the line, as the Sharks bounced back from a crushing 5-4 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
“I'm not going to lie, it was tough going to sleep because you get (into Pittsburgh) late and you're up for a few hours thinking about how that one (in Carolina) ended,” Couture said. “To the guys' credit, we forgot about that one pretty quickly and rebounded well.”
Couture, with 19 goals, is also now on pace for his fourth career 30-goal season.
But the Sharks remain in 13th place in the Western Conference, and changes to the roster are a certainty. Not only in the days and weeks ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline but also in the offseason as general manager Mike Grier continues to put his stamp on the organization.
But Couture, who turns 34 in March, likely isn't going anywhere.