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Couture hat trick leads Sharks to Game 3 road win

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The San Jose Sharks survived a late push back from the Colorado Avalanche for a 4-2 Game 3 win on Tuesday night at Denver’s Pepsi Center.

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Led by Logan Couture’s first career playoff hat trick, the Sharks took a 2-1 series lead in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Couture leads the 2019 playoffs with nine goals.

A blistering-quick pace in the first period gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

The chances came early for San Jose, when Tomas Hertl stole the puck from Nathan MacKinnon, cut to the inside and got a quick shot off. Evander Kane swooped in for the rebound, but Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer made both saves.

San Jose’s early attack was jump-started late in the first period, when Couture collected the rebound of Timo Meier’s shot and backhanded it over the sprawling Grubauer.

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In the final 1:30 of the first period, Meier extended the lead after intercepting a stretch pass, streaking into the Colorado zone and lasering his shot bar-down past Grubauer.

The Sharks poured on the pressure early in the second period, out-shooting the Avalanche 11-4 through the first 10 minutes.

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Colorado reversed the momentum with special teams play. While a dangerous Avalanche power play did not score, their penalty-kill helped turn the tides. After San Jose’s power play was held to zero shots for the second time that night, Burns’ stretch pass was stolen in the neutral zone. Ian Cole passed it to MacKinnon, who flew into the San Jose zone and fired his shot top shelf past Jones. MacKinnon’s goal with 4:09 left in the second period cut the Sharks’ lead to 2-1.

The offense was flowing from Colorado in the third period. Through the first eight minutes, they out-shot San Jose 5-1.

Colorado’s aggressive forecheck lead to the game-tying goal by helping maintain possession in the San Jose zone. Samuel Girard’s shot was redirected by Matt Nieto and the puck trickled past Jones. The game was tied at 2-2 with 8:15 on the clock.

Just under a minute later, the Sharks responded with their own tenacity on the forecheck. Meier created a defensive breakdown by Colorado, forcing a Gabriel Landeskog turnover. Nyquist kept the puck just inside the zone and sent it back down for Couture. Couture peeled off the wall to the net, scoring his second of the night shortside on Grubauer.

A late tripping call on against Couture gave Colorado a power play in the final three minutes of the third period. But the Sharks shut down the Avalanche, remaining perfect on the penalty kill in Game 3.

After Kane shot the puck wide of the empty net, MacKinnon broke through the Sharks defense to try and slip the puck past Jones, but was denied. Jones has continued his streak of strong play, stopping 25 of 27 Colorado shots on goal.

With 30 seconds left, Couture scored on the empty net to complete the hat trick and the 4-2 Sharks win.

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