His team holding a late two-goal late over the feeble Vancouver Canucks and with the net empty on the other end of the ice, Logan Couture wasn't going to be coming to the bench so close to his first career NHL hat trick.
Sitting on 20 career two-goal games, and having scored a pair of goals already on the night, Couture’s coach and his teammates all wanted him to finally seal the deal on Tuesday at Rogers Arena.
"I was going to change with about a minute and 20 seconds left," Couture told the CSN broadcasters after the game. "I think the guys knew it had been  two-goal games. The guys were telling me to stay on the ice, I was going to stay on the ice to end the game regardless.”
Seconds after one long-range attempt at an empty net went inches wide, Couture managed to flick in a shot from center ice after Dainius Zubrus and Brent Burns worked to get him the puck, finally giving him his third goal in a 4-1 victory.
“Nice for him to get that,” DeBoer told reporters. “He’s could have had six or seven goals in the last three or four games, he’s just been a little snake bit. It’s a good time of year for him to get the monkey off his back.”
Couture ended a 10-game goal-scoring drought, but as DeBoer said, he could have had several over that span. That includes Monday, when Jonathan Quick denied him on a breakaway, and later got the shaft of his stick on Couture’s redirection towards an empty net in a remarkable stop.
Perhaps those Quick saves were a blessing in disguise, though, agitating Couture enough to push him even harder against Vancouver. As a team, San Jose struggled to get going against the Canucks while playing their third game in four nights and coming off of that emotional 5-2 win over the Kings on Monday that officially clinched them a playoff spot.
The Sharks were outshot 13-7 in the first period, but escaped with it still scoreless thanks to James Reimer. The backup, if he can even be called that, gave the club another quality start in a game that they needed him to hold the line, especially early. A glove save on Alex Burrows a couple minutes after puck drop was perhaps Reimer’s best stop of the night in what was his sixth start in teal.
“It’s always tough when you get in late the night before. Reimer bailed us out there,” Couture said. “We weren’t too good in the first here, kind of found our legs in the second.”
DeBoer said: “Reims was fantastic tonight. We knew we were going to need a goaltending performance tonight, they were pretty much rested and waiting. We were dealing with a little bit of fatigue and an emotional victory the other night and we knew we’d be a little bit off, and Reims did what he had to do.”
That allowed Pavelski to put the Sharks ahead, and although they gave up a shorthanded goal in the second on a five-minute power play after Jake Virtanen’s late hit on Roman Polak, Couture took over after that. His first goal, the game winner, came after a “lucky bounce off of [Nick] Spaling’s skate,” while his second, on a five-on-three power play, occurred when “Pavs made a great pass” to find him open in the slot.
The 27-year-old now sits sixth all time in franchise history in goals with 152, passing Jeff Friesen. The Sharks are 29-13-5 with Couture in the lineup this season, and just 14-15-1 without him, after he missed 30 games over the first half with a pair of injuries.
It was a reminder of just how important he is to the Sharks, too, in a season in which Burns and Joe Thornton have received the lion’s share of attention.
“We’re a different team with him in the lineup. I think our record reflects that,” DeBoer said.