The full list of Sharks playing with "bumps and bruises" won't be known for at least another day or two, but Logan Couture acknowledged Tuesday night that he has been playing with a sprained ankle since Game 3. What impact did it have on his play? "Zero," Couture said. The Sharks' leading goal scorer this season, Couture left Game 3 four minutes into the second period after getting tangled up with Kings forward Jeff Carter. Couture came back for one shift in the second period, skated an even nine minutes in the third, then scored the overtime winner for a 2-1 San Jose victory. Couture said his ankle was frozen that night and before every game so that he was able to not miss any more than the 14-minute stretch of the period in which he was hurt. The penalty is automatic: Clear the puck over the glass from the defensive zone and a two-minute minor is imposed for delay of game. But even though the calls this series have helped his team more than it has hurt it, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said before Game 7 that he would like to see that rule changed. "I do think it's too punitive. We ask the referees to impose their discretion on every penalty call. Was it a hook, wasn't it a hook? What was the severity of it?" McLellan said. "This is one that's black-and-white for them. I think they're a very talented group of people. They're very capable of making a judgment call on that situation." The Sharks did lose Game 2 after a call against Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave the Kings a 5-on-3 power play that led to two late Los Angeles goals. But the Sharks also benefited from the same call in Games 3 and 6, leading to two San Jose goals in contests that San Jose won by 2-1 scores. McLellan said he preferred letting the four officials on the ice huddle to make the determination if clearing the puck into the stands was intentional or not. Bracken Kearns kicked around the minors for seven years before reaching the NHL last season with the Florida Panthers at age 30. And the Sharks' fourth-line winger called it a "dream come true" to be playing in a Game 7 to settle a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series. "I feel like I've worked very hard and definitely caught a break this year in getting this opportunity," Kearns said before the game. "I'm just trying to take full advantage of it." Kearns averaged 7:17 ice time and has been credited with 12 hits in a fourth-line role in six postseason games entering Game 7.
Logan Couture played with sprained ankle since Game 3
San Jose Mercury News | May 29