Couture and Jones help Sharks blank Jets 4-0.
By Curtis Pashelka The Mercury News (TNS)
Spots for the 2017 NHL All-Star game won't be handed out until January. But through the first quarter of the season, two candidates have plainly emerged for the San Jose Sharks. Both played a major role in the Sharks' 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets at SAP Center on Saturday. Logan Couture scored twice for his fourth multi-goal game of the season and goalie Martin Jones made 38 saves for his second shutout as the Sharks earned an important victory before they start a four-game road trip next week. Marc-Edouard Vlasic assisted on both of Couture's goals. Couture scored once at even strength and added another shorthanded and now has a team-leading 13 goals in 22 games. Jones stopped 16 shots in the second period, including four on the penalty kill, as he bounced back from a so-so showing Friday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. Tim Heed scored on the power play and Tomas Hertl added an empty-netter as the Sharks improved their record at home to 7-6-1. San Jose begins its road trip Tuesday in Philadelphia, followed by games against Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington. Couture's shorthanded goal gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead at the 13:13 mark of the second period. Hertl knocked a loose puck into the neutral zone where Couture collected it and went in on a breakaway, beating Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck with a backhand shot through the legs. Couture had 25 goals in 73 games last season, as he didn't notch his 13th goal until the 41st game. Just as impressive has been Couture's work without the puck, as he and Hertl have formed the Sharks' top shutdown duo among the forward group. Jones was back in goal Saturday after he was pulled in the second period of Friday's game, although part of the reason he was taken out at that point against Vegas might have been to wake up his teammates. Before Saturday, Jones had only been so-so against the Jets in his career with a 2-2 record, a 2.77 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Last January, though, Jones stopped 26 of 28 shots in the Sharks 5-2 win over the Jets at SAP Center. What was more encouraging for the Sharks was how Jones has typically responded when he's been pulled in his previous appearance. Jones was 4-0 in such instances over the past two seasons, including 2-0 this year. He was also pulled in games against Los Angeles in October and Tampa Bay earlier this month before he came back to win the next time he took the net. For the record, Couture and Jones have been selected to one all-star game each. The Sharks had a 2-0 lead after the first period, and struck for their third power play goal in four games at the 11:30 mark. The Sharks worked it around on top of the circles before Kevin Labanc took a pass from Joe Thornton and backhanded a pass to Heed, who one-timed a slap shot past Steve Mason for his third goal of the season. Thornton had hit the cross bar with a shot attempt just moments before. The Sharks then took a two-goal lead as Mason seemed handcuffed by a shot from Justin Braun. Mason got a blocker on the shot, but the rebound came to Couture, who buried it with 16 seconds to go in the first. Mason came out of the game before the start of the second period with an upper body injury. The Sharks were hoping to put a complete game together before they begin a four-game road trip Tuesday at Philadelphia. The Sharks didn't start well Friday against Vegas, falling behind 2-0 and 4-1 before they started a rally to tie the game. The Knights won the game 5-4 in overtime on a goal by Jonathan Marchessault. Coming into Saturday, the Sharks were 0-7-1 on the season when allowing three goals or more. Perhaps not surprisingly, they were 11-1-1 when they allowed two goals or less. "There's some things we want to clean up from Vegas last night," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said Saturday morning. "We felt we gave them too much room, too much time and we were on our heels too much, which is something we take a lot of pride in, in our structure away from the puck. "We've got to get that back tonight because this is a skilled team that'll make you look bad if you don't." Mason started in net for a Jets team that had won six of seven and was in second place in the Central Division before Saturday. Nicolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele had combined for 32 goals, and Scheifele and Blake Wheeler led the team with 25 points each. "They've got a nice mix there," DeBoer said. "They've fixed the goaltending, it looks like, they're getting good goaltending, which allows them to take a few more chances offensively and it's working for them." RESULTS Los Angeles 2 Anaheim 1 (SO) San Jose 4 Winnipeg 0 Calgary 3 Colorado 2 Las Vegas 4 Arizona 2 St. Louis 6 Minnesota 3 Washington 4 Toronto 2 Montreal 3 Buffalo 0 NY Islanders 2 Ottawa 1 New Jersey 4 Detroit 3 (OT) Chicago 4 Florida 1 Pittsburgh 5 Tampa Bay 2
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