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Quick Bite: Couture leads Sharks to seventh straight season-opening win

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Logan Couture picked up two points, while Brent Burns scored the winner as San Jose opened the season with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the San Jose Sharks won their first game of the season. Stop me if you’ve also heard this before: the Sharks won their opener against the Los Angeles Kings.

They accomplished the former for the seventh consecutive time, and the latter for the third, dropping the rival Kings 2-1 thanks to goals from Logan Couture and Brent Burns.

On a night the Sharks unfurled their Western Conference Champions banner, the start looked much like the finish to last season, as San Jose chased the game. Logan Couture tripped Anze Kopitar just 33 seconds into the game. 49 seconds later, Tyler Toffoli tucked a snapshot top-shelf to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

Slowly, the Sharks shifted the game in their favor, pulling away in puck possession midway through the first period. On San Jose’s second power play, the Sharks tied the game. Joe Pavelski one-touched Joe Thornton’s pass from the half wall to a pinching Logan Couture, and Couture snapped a shot off of the crossbar and past Jonathan Quick, tying the game at one with 5:55 left in the first period.

Following the goal, Pavelski put the loose puck back in the net for good measure and Quick, uh...took exception to that. Patrick Marleau set up Pavelski in front of the net with a pass that the Captain tipped just wide.

Adding injury to insult, Quick was replaced by backup Jeff Zatkoff to start the second. Quick stopped 14 of 15 shots in the first period, and left the game with a lower-body injury.

The Sharks continued to control play, peppering shot attempts towards Zatkoff’s net in the second period. Only seven of their 22 attempts turned to shots, though, and the Kings hung around, eventually generating a push of their own late in the period. But, nothing changed on the scoreboard,

3:20 into the third, the Sharks took their first lead. Logan Couture kicked a loose puck to Joonas Donskoi, whose pass across to Mikkel Boedker was blocked by Drew Doughty. Luckily for San Jose, Doughty blocked the puck directly to Burns, whose quick release beat Zatkoff’s short side.

Now trailing, Los Angeles pushed for an equalizer for most of the third period. A Chris Tierney turnover led to a chance for Devin Setgouchi on a three-on-two, but Martin Jones made one of his 21 saves on the Kings’ best chance of the period.

The Sharks’ third line created their best two chances of the third period. Marleau set up Joel Ward in the slot, who fired wide. Later, Ward would have another great chance, as Tierney set him up alone in front of Zatkoff, but Ward couldn’t find twine.

San Jose wouldn’t need another goal, though, as Los Angeles could not tie the game, even with Zatkoff pulled. For the seventh straight year, the Sharks’ opener ended with a Sharks win, as San Jose now prepares for its first road trip of the season with two points in the bag.

Notes

  • Great games from the Sharks’ free-agent signings, David Schlemko and Mikkel Boedker. Boedker used his speed well and looks to be a seamless fit alongside Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi. How did Schlemko do? I’ll let our two most recent managing editors take it away.
  • Not the best possession game from the Sharks’ third and fourth lines tonight, but they improved as the game went along. I thought both were strong in the third period, and they created a handful of good chances. More periods like the third from San Jose’s bottom six will make their depth pretty formidable.
  • A quiet, 21 save performance from Martin Jones. Yawn.
  • With two points, Logan Couture seems to have picked up right where he left off last postseason, and has now scored goals in three straight games dating back to June, and his second multi-point effort in three games.
  • It was in another uniform, but it sure was nice to Devin Setgouchi back in the NHL. If you haven’t read David Pollak’s feature in The Hockey News, do so immediately. Easy to see he’s the one King that Sharks fans are rooting for this season.

Fear the Fin Three Stars

  1. Logan Couture
  2. Martin Jones
  3. David Schlemko