Photo credit: San Jose Sharks
by Mary Walsh
NEW YORK — In spite of Logan Couture’s hat trick on Saturday, the Sharks lost to the New York Islanders by two goals, for the second time this season. Islander goals came from Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, John Tavares and two from Anders Lee. Thomas Greiss made 28 saves for the win, while Aaron Dell made 18 saves for San Jose. The game was the second of back to backs for the Sharks, and the same skaters were in the lineup as the night before. The only only change from Friday’s game was in net, with Dell in for Martin Jones.
Sharks defenseman, Brent Burns, who had eight shots in the game, said of Couture’s recent success: “He’s a great player. He’s an elite player and that’s huge for us.” On how Couture and linemate Tomas Hertl have played together this season, he said:
They’re both great players. I think Hertl is very under-rated on his puck control and his battle level. Great at controlling the puck in the zone and making little plays. He’s just hard to play against, obviously huge that he’s got a great shot and great hands. Battles hard, and I think it’s good to see them getting chemistry.
An uneventful first period was followed by a four goal second period. The Sharks scored first, on a power play at 6:26. Brock Nelson was in the box for hooking Kevin Labanc. The goal came 35 seconds into the power play, starting with a faceoff win by Joe Thornton. Thornton won the faceoff and then passed the puck back to Brent Burns at the point. Burns hesitated briefly, then shot it for Logan Couture to redirect it in. Assists went to Burns and Thornton.
The Islanders responded with two goals, the first less than two minutes later. Nick Leddy got around Boedker to get to the puck behind the Sharks net. From there he sent the puck back to Anders Lee for a neat shot past Dell. Leddy and John Tavares got the assists.
The next Islanders goal came less than a minute later at 8:31. Josh Bailey took advantage of a takeaway and stick handled around Joe Pavelski to beat Dell one on one.
Logan Couture tied the game back up at 12:44. Jannik Hansen followed the puck over the line and had to reach for it. He managed to pass it to Couture as he was approaching the faceoff circle. From there, Couture could shoot without interference and he hit the mark. Assists went to Hansen and Brenden Dillon.
Early in the third period, the Islanders took the lead again with a goal from Andrew Ladd. Mathew Barzal carried the puck around behind the net, driven there by a lot of Sharks defenders. Possibly Barzal got too much attention because Ladd was able to skate into an open space in the slot and when he got the pass from down low he was ready for it. Dell was not quite ready for the shot. Assists went to Barzal and Josh Bailey.
Moments later, Joe Pavelski was hit in the wrist area and appeared to be in some distress. He stayed on the bench and did not leave the game.
The Sharks had some good chances during a power play in the third, in particular the unit of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker and Kevin Labanc. The Sharks had plenty of chances in the third. Half way through the period, the shots were 13-2.
The Islanders scored twice more in the third period. The first came on a two on one after Joakim Ryan got tangled up on the boards with 15, while trying to keep the puck from escaping up the boards. The two were John Tavares and Anders Lee, with Brent Burns back. Tavares’s pass went through Burns’s skates right on to Lee’s tape. Assists went to Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck.
Couture closed the gap with just under two minutes left in the game. He was at the net when Burns sent a shot from the blue line, and after a little scramble, redirected it into the net.
Incidentally, that third goal from Couture won $100,000 for Wanda Lockwood in the Safeway Score & Win contest.
The final goal of the game went into an empty net at 19:04, off of Tavares’s stick. Assists went to Lee and Calvin de Haan.
After the game, Burns was asked if Joe Thornton got a get out of jail free card after a bad turnover during the game. He responded:
Every goal happens, there’s always three or four breakdowns that happen before. I mean I don’t even know which one you’re talking about to be honest. Hockey’s pretty fast, this team especially comes hard so it’s usually not on the puck controller, usually it’s the support and guys talking to him. I honestly don’t know which one you’re talking about but, I assume, there’s a lot of other things that happen on every goal. We don’t really have get out of jail free cards or blame game.
The Sharks next play on Monday against the Rangers at 4:00 PM PT in New York.