LOS ANGELES – Logan Couture is thriving as a top line winger.
The 23-year-old All-Star moved up to the Joe Thornton line full-time prior to a Feb. 26 tilt against Colorado, and in the nine games since, has become a point-per-game player with six goals and three assists. That includes a productive game on Thursday against the Kings, when his two goals and one assist paced the San Jose offense in a 4-3 win.
[RECAP: Sharks 4, Kings 3]
Is Couture, who spent the first five weeks of the season as the Sharks' second-line center, getting into a groove?
“I guess, I don’t know exactly what the stats are, but I feel like I’m getting a lot of opportunities,” said Couture, who is tied with Patrick Marleau for second in team scoring with 21 points. “Playing with Jumbo obviously helps. He’s a passer, and I like to shoot the puck, so it’s always nice scoring.”
“He’s been energized and excited," Todd McLellan said. "We’ve had him in the middle trying different wingers all year, and finally we put him on the wing with Jumbo and [Brent Burns] coming up, and there’s an energized line. There’s lots of scoring going through there, which is a real positive thing to see. We’re excited about that, and he’s played very, very well. That being said, we’ve got a second line that has to produce as well, and we’d like that to follow through with the third and fourth lines.”
The latest addition to that top line, of course, is Burns. The pair teamed up for both of San Jose’s even-strength goals on Thursday, when Couture found Burns open in the slot in the first period, and Burns fed Couture on a two-on-none rush after he stole the puck from the Kings’ Alec Martinez early in the third.
The top line will remain intact when the Sharks and Kings play the second of their home-and-home on Saturday at Staples Center.
“He’s a fun guy, he’s enjoyable to be around, and he’s fun to play with. He’s always got a smile on his face,” Couture said of Burns.
Couture has a reason to smile lately, too.
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San Jose has an 8-1-4 mark at HP Pavilion, but it’s just 4-7-2 on the road as the Sharks begin a five-game trip. That includes a 1-4-1 mark in the last six games, with the lone win coming in Vancouver via the shootout.
In their last 11 road games, the Sharks have just 15 goals. The power play is a big reason for that, going 3-for-49 (6.1 percent).
“The story for us this year has just been a lack of scoring,” Dan Boyle said on Friday. “That’s been the problem. Home or away, that’s been the problem.
“To have success, I know it’s a cliché, you’ve got to be able to win on the road. I’m not sure what’s holding us back or causing the difference. I would say earlier it was the lack of offense. We’ve struggled to score goals all year, but we’ve certainly struggled to score goals on the road.”
At the same time, the Sharks were pleased with their most recent road effort, when they fired 41 shots on St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen yet succumbed to the Blues, 4-2 on Tuesday.
“Our road game in St. Louis was a strong one, and maybe the strongest one we’ve had since earlier in the year. We’d like to carry that one into tonight,” McLellan said.