Couture, Jones lift Sharks over Jets
SAN JOSE — For the Sharks to have success, it starts and ends with defense.
That’s what was on display Saturday as goalie Martin Jones made 38 saves as San Jose beat the Winnipeg Jets — one of the hottest teams in the NHL — 4-0 at SAP Center.
Jones collected his second shutout of the season and the 17th of his career. San Jose’s penalty kill went 3-for-3 and top two-way center Logan Couture scored twice in the win.
“We knew points were going to be tough,” Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott said. “Jones was excellent. And all six defensemen were solid. To hold them off the scoreboard — they’ve got a high-powered offense — to do what we did tonight was excellent.”
Sitting second in the Central Division, Winnipeg lost for only the second time in eight games and for the fourth time in 14.
“I thought the ones that we did get there, their goaltender was really good,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “He made some real good saves, but we missed the net on a bunch of real good opportunities too. We certainly didn’t make the most of the opportunities that we had.”
Tomas Hertl scored his fifth goal of the season into an empty net at 16:50 of the third period as the San Jose, struggling for offense, scored as many as four goals in consecutive games for the first time.
“It’s finally going in for us,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who added two assists.
The Sharks were outshot 14-5 in the second period, but added to their lead thanks to outstanding play on the penalty kill.
San Jose took three penalties within a 6:57 span of the middle of the period. After standing tall at the blue line to continuously deny Winnipeg clear entry, the Sharks really benefitted from defenseman Dylan DeMelo’s interference call against Brandon Tanev at 13:02.
Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien fumbled an attempted keep-in at the right point, and the result was a Couture breakaway that he capped with a backhand goal past relief goalie Connor Hellebuyck just 11 seconds into the kill.
Couture’s team-leading 13th goal came at 13:13, and he nearly capped a third career hat trick when he broke away short-handed again, but the puck squirted off his stick before he could attempt a shot.
“Fake shot, he kind of froze and I went around him,” Couture said of his shortie. “The second one, I couldn’t believe I had another breakaway and the puck jumped on me.”
The Sharks started quick on Saturday, scoring the only two goals of the opening period in addition to outshooting the Jets 13-9.
San Jose converted its first power play at 11:30 to take a 1-0 lead as Tim Heed scored his third goal of the season. Byfuglien interfered with Joe Pavelski to give the hosts the man advantage.
Pavelski redirected a Joe Thornton drive off the crossbar, but the Sharks stuck with it. Eventually, Heed stepped into Kevin Labanc’s behind-the-back pass from the high slot and scored dead on 1:18 into the power play.
“One of their guys broke a stick, they had to shrink in a little so I had a good opportunity to move in a little and get a good shot,” said Heed before complimenting Labanc’s feed. “I was waiting for it. It’s good he saw me there.”
Mason made a couple good stops in close to deny Timo Meier and Pavelski, but left a juicy rebound on a Justin Braun shot from the right point that Couture punched home at 19:44 for his first goal of then night.
“They limited our chances,” Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “Obviously, we had a hard time in the offensive zone. They did a good job keeping our chances down. We kind of did it to ourselves, too. We had some times where we could’ve shot and we passed. There were a lot of pucks laying around that we just didn’t bang in.”
NOTES: G Connor Hellebuyck relieved starter Steve Mason at the outset of the second period. Mason sustained an upper-body injury late in the opening period. ... San Jose D Tim Heed returned after sitting out two games as fellow rookie D Joakim Ryan took a turn as a healthy scratch. C Ryan Carpenter joined Ryan as a healthy scratch. ... Winnipeg D Ben Chiarot was fined $3,763.44 by the NHL department of player safety for catching Anaheim RW Corey Perry with a butt end to the chin late in the second period of Friday’s game. ... Sharks LW Melker Karlsson is out day-to-day with an upper-body injury. ... D Tucker Poolman, LW Shawn Matthias and C Marko Dano did not dress for Winnipeg, who returns home to host Minnesota on Monday. ... San Jose embarks on a four-game Eastern trip that starts Tuesday in Philadelphia.