Couture hat trick gives Sharks 2-1 series lead over Avalanche

After his heroics in Game 7 of Round 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights, Logan Couture had a bit of a quiet spell to start the San Jose Sharks’ Round 2 series against the Colorado Avalanche.

Had.

See, a player of Couture’s ilk and playoff prowess wasn’t going to be held at bay for long.

On Tuesday night, Couture unleashed goals No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 of this postseason in a Game 3 hat trick where his provided an answer to surge from the Avalanche in the third period and sealed the deal with an empty-netter to complete his hat trick to push the Sharks to a 2-1 series lead with a 4-2 Game 3 win.

Couture’s playoff career can only be described as elite.

He now has more playoff goals than anyone not named Alex Ovechkin (Couture’s 43 is seven behind Ovi’s 50) since 2010, and he’s is sixth in playoff scoring (92 points in 106 games) in that span, too.

Couture’s goal, statistically important to his own legacy, was critical in stopping the bleeding.

The Sharks dominated the first two periods, keeping Colorado to 17 shots through 40 minutes, but Nathan MacKinnon was afforded some time and space in the later stage of the second and, well, the predictable occurred.

The goal sparked the Avs, who came out with a flurry in the third. They hit pay dirt, too, as Matt Nieto tied the game when a point shot ping-ponged off his body, off Martin Jones and into the back of the net to level the score 2-2.

Jones hadn’t seen much rubber up until that point, but it was hard to fault him on either goal against on Tuesday. MacKinnon’s goal was hard to spot even on a slow-motion replay. Nieto’s, meanwhile, took so many bounces you’d think you were in the kid’s area at McDonald’s.

Jones, who was the biggest question mark coming into the series, made 25 saves, stopping 10-of-11 in the third.

Both power plays went 0-for-4. Of course, that hurts the Avs more than the Sharks given the result, and Colorado had some looks but just couldn’t convert, including on a tripping call on Couture with 2:56 left in the game.

Couture’s second of the game came 65 seconds after Nieto’s tying goal and the hat-trick marker came after his time in the sin bin had expired.

Timo Meier‘s name shouldn’t be forgotten in Couture’s shadow.

Meier played a part in Couture’s first two goals and added one of his own in the second period to put San Jose up 2-0.

Game 4 goes Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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