SAN JOSE – Midway through the Sharks-Avalanche game on Wednesday night at SAP Center, everyone was thinking it.
After the game, Logan Couture said it.
“It was a little boring there for awhile.”
It was. The Sharks looked unemotional and weary through the first half, perhaps still feeling the aftereffects of a seven-game road trip that ended on Sunday, while Colorado wasn’t any better.
San Jose improved, though, and the result was a 5-1 win including with two empty net goals.
Couture was asked how difficult it was to get over that hump in a game that was apparently as unexciting to some of the players as it was for everyone else who was watching.
“Just stay with it,” he said. “There really weren’t that many grade-A chances back and forth. We were playing good defensively, we figured that we would create some offensive chances, and we did.”
Scott Hannan opened the scoring by redirecting a pretty Brent Burns feed at 16:35 of the second period, and Chris Tierney tallied at 8:01 of the third period to make it a 2-0 Sharks advantage.
Colorado responded with a power play goal by Matt Duchene, cutting the Sharks’ lead in half, but Couture helped create the most important play of the game. He pressured Tyson Barrie into a turnover and spotted Patrick Marleau in the slot midway through the final frame, and Marleau’s skillful redirection gave San Jose its two-goal cushion back.
Considering the Avalanche were giving off every impression a team that already knows its out of the race, there was little doubt that the Marleau marker would be enough for the Sharks, who pulled to within five points of Winnipeg for the second and final wild card spot.
“I thought Cooch and his linemates did a good job of keeping that forecheck alive, and then finding Patty in the slot for the third goal,” Todd McLellan said. “That basically made the difference in the night."
Couture said: “That was a massive goal. That was not an easy pass for [Marleau] to handle. I kind of fired it at him and jammed him a little bit, and he was able to get it off and put it in a spot where he’s scored a lot of goals.”
Couture added an empty net goal with 4:05 to go in regulation, and that was followed by the unlikeliest sight of the night less than a minute later – John Scott’s backhander from behind his own blue line that bounded into another empty net at 16:28.
The popular fourth liner celebrated with a massive fist pump when it crossed the line, and there were smiles up and down the bench. Even McLellan was seen with a wide grin after the marker.
It was a welcome development, considering this Sharks season hasn’t provided too many light moments.
“It's always funny, I guess, when I score,” Scott said. “It's good, the guys get a kick out of that and I was surprised to be out there with the empty net.”
Couture said: “He was happy, the bench was celebrating, so it was good to see.”
San Jose still faces long odds to make the postseason, but its worth pointing out that its remaining schedule is about as easy a slate as the team could hope for.
They’ll oppose Arizona in a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday, host the Dallas Stars on Monday, and finish with Edmonton and Los Angeles. None of those teams is currently in playoff position, and the Coyotes and Oilers are easily the worst teams in the Western Conference.
The Sharks are 3-0-1 in their last four games now, too.
“Just try and win the next one,” Couture said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do for a little while here, is just worry about the next game.”