Couture leads Sharks past Islanders 3-1
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Logan Couture made sure the San Jose Sharks did the scoring in the third period for a change.
Couture scored on a difficult deflection with 8:10 remaining to help the Sharks win for the third time in four games, 3-1 over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
The Sharks have allowed 18 goals in the third period this season, tied for second-most in the NHL. They gave up eight of those in a four-game skid right before turning it around in this current stretch.
''I think we went after them a little bit more,'' Couture said. ''We've had the tendency to sit back on teams and let them dictate the play. I think in the third we went after them, we shot the puck, we got it back. A couple of nice plays.''
Couture's was the best of all.
He was standing to the side of the net when Justin Braun sent a hard pass from the point in his direction. Couture managed to get his stick on the puck and redirected it into the top of the net for the game-winning goal.
The puck went in and out of the net so quickly the referees didn't even notice it at first and only stopped play after Couture started celebrating.
Replay confirmed the goal.
''Cooch has great hands,'' Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. ''He puts himself in position to knock a lot of pucks down. He doesn't open up. He still stays square to the puck and he's able to knock things down. It was an impressive goal from that angle.''
Tomas Hertl and James Sheppard also scored for the Sharks, who get a needed four-day break after playing nine of their first 13 games on the road. Antti Niemi made 19 saves in his fourth straight start.
Kyle Okposo scored for the Islanders, who have lost their first two games on a five-game road trip. Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves.
''I thought we played a solid game,'' Okposo said. ''This is a tough building to play in. They got a lucky bounce to go up 2-1. It happens. We needed to do more to win.''
Sheppard gave San Jose some insurance when he scored his first of the season with 4:25 remaining on a slick transition play with linemates Adam Burish and Andrew Desjardins.
Couture's goal ended a more than 40-minute scoring drought after the teams traded goals midway through the first period. There were a handful of good chances after the early goals but no one could break through.
Halak stopped Joe Pavelski in the closing seconds of the second period and then robbed him again midway through the third when Pavelski got the puck all alone in the slot.
The Islanders struck first when Okposo took a drop pass from Nick Leddy and beat Niemi with a shot to the short side from the circle midway through the first period. But that was all New York would get.
''We had plenty of scoring chances,'' coach Jack Capuano said. ''I think we were over 10 again. We have to find a way to score. When you're not scoring, players are trying to make things happen and you can't fault them for that. The frustrating part is how well we're playing and not scoring.''
The Sharks answered a few minutes later on the power play when Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto won a battle for the puck behind the net. Hertl went to the front, took a pass from Wingels and knocked it past Halak for the equalizer. It was the third goal of the season for Hertl, who last scored on Oct. 16 when the Sharks visited the Islanders.
''It's good to see him score,'' Wingels said. ''I think everyone could see a big smile on his face after. Sometimes it only takes one goal to really get you going. We hope that's the case with Tomas.''
NOTES: D Travis Hamonic (upper body) returned to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury. ... Sharks D Scott Hannan was honored before the game for playing in his 1,000th career game last month. He left with an injury in the first period shortly after a hard hit from Cal Clutterbuck. ... Islanders F Cory Conacher left briefly in the third after being elbowed in the head by Jason Demers. Conacher's night ended when he got a 10-minute misconduct penalty shortly after returning to the game.