HP PAVILION — Make no mistake, the torch has been passed to Logan Couture.
The Sharks’ 24-year old center scored the game-winning goal on the power play in overtime as San Jose beat the Kings 2-1 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Dan Boyle also tallied a power play goal and Antti Niemi made 26 saves as the Sharks halved the Kings’ lead in the best of seven series to 2 games to 1.
Couture’s game-winning goal was his first playoff overtime winner, and Boyle took notice:
Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle
Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay
“He’s obviously a huge, huge part of our team. He scores the game winner with a terrific shot. That’s a pretty good shot but I’ve said before he’s a tremendous hockey player.”
Couture missed much of the second period getting treatment in the dressing room after he took a hit from Jeff Carter and jammed his left foot into the boards near the Kings bench. When he returned late in the period, fans roared as No. 39 skated back on the ice.
After the game, Couture received more treatment and did not speak to reporters. He should be able to play in Game 4.
Coach Todd McLellan said Game 3 was similar in many ways to Game 2:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
Video: CSN Bay Area
“We saw that happen the other night with one of their key people in (Anze) Kopitar. When (Couture) came back tonight it gave our team a lift as well. The locker room was real positive when he was ready to go.”
This was arguably the Sharks’ most physical game. Late in the second period, both Scott Gomez and Mike Richards were penalized for roughing. While that didn’t affect the outcome, it reinforced the intensity and rivalry between the two teams.
Dustin Brown picked up a slashing penalty against Joe Pavelski for breaking his stick with a little more than five minutes to play, but San Jose failed to score on the man advantage.
But as in Game 2, a pair of late penalties would ultimately decide the game.
On a centering pass with 42 seconds remaining, Tommy Wingels was hooked by Robin Regehr in the slot, drawing a penalty.
San Jose got two shots on goal before Trevor Lewis, the hero of Game 2, was whistled for goalie interference on a 2-on-1 breakaway with only five seconds left in the third period.
The Sharks went into overtime with a 1:19 two-man advantage. As the first penalty expired, Couture was in perfect position, wide open near the crease. Couture got the puck from Marleau and stretched the back of the net with a quick wrister as the Sharks emerged victorious.
Kings forward Dustin Penner wasn’t thrilled with the officiating:
Kings forward Dustin Penner
Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay
“It was an unfortunate break. It’s always tough to kill a 5-on-3 especially in overtime against a team that’s already down 2-0 (in the series) at home. I don’t think we agree how it went down 5-on-3 but sometimes the refs miss calls.”
Los Angeles complained that Marleau pushed Lewis into Niemi and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick got a game misconduct for arguing with officials after the final horn sounded.
The same penalty that doomed the Sharks in Game 2 ended up giving them an early first period lead. The Kings’ Jake Muzzin — pressured in his own zone — flipped the puck over the glass, putting San Jose on the power play.
On the ensuing faceoff, Patrick Marleau passed to Dan Boyle who ripped a one-timer past Jonathan Quick for a 1-0 Sharks lead just 1:34 into the game.
Midway through the first period, Antti Niemi came out of his net to play the puck and passed it behind the net to Brad Stuart. Niemi was just outside the crease when Stuart turned the puck over to Tyler Toffoli who backhanded it over the blocker side of Niemi.
In the second period, Marc Eduoard-Vlasic kept cross-checking Brown into the corner boards and was penalized for roughing.
Game 4 is Tuesday night with faceoff at 7 p.m. The game is televised on NBC Sports Network.
Martin Havlat re-injured his groin. He has missed most of the playoffs having played in Game 1 vs. Vancouver and the first period of Game 3 vs. Los Angeles. The Sharks power play was 2-for-5. They are now 9-for-36 with the man advantage this postseason (25 percent). … San Jose is 3-0 in overtime during the postseason and 3-0 at HP Pavilion during the playoffs.