Couture scores when the Sharks win and scores when they lose. He scores on long playoff runs and scores when San Jose goes out early. Since 2010, Couture has scored more Stanley Cup Playoffs goals than anyone except Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who has 50 and leads Couture by three.
But the Capitals are done and the Sharks still playing, so Ovie is catchable.
When Couture scored twice in two minutes on Monday – one of them entirely on his own shorthanded – to drag the Sharks back into a 2-2 tie against the St. Louis Blues, the 30-year-old had foundation for one of the great individual playoff performances since, well, he scored twice in San Jose’s miracle comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the first round three weeks ago. Or maybe since Couture had a hat trick one week later against the Colorado Avalanche.
Instead, San Jose surrendered a goal to Robert Bortuzzo, the depth defenceman who had never scored in the NHL playoffs, and the Blues went on to win 4-2 in the Shark Tank.
Couture has four goals in the first two games of the Western Conference Final and yet the series is tied 1-1. The Sharks have not won consecutive games within a series since they came back from the dead against the Knights.
San Jose’s power play scored four times in the third period of that famous seventh game, and has generated three goals in nine games since then.
"I don’t think we’ve put back-to-back games of good hockey out there, which is frustrating," Couture said Tuesday before the Sharks travelled to St. Louis for Game 3 on Wednesday. "We’ve shown stretches of very good play and we’ve shown stretches of being a very good team. But we’ve also shown it the other way.
"Last night’s game we have a chance to go up 2-0 and put a team in a hole, and we don’t play well. Now we’ve got to go play well on the road, so it is frustrating."
Couture has more goals these playoffs (13) than all but six other players have points, and four points more (19) than anyone. If you handed out the Conn Smythe Trophy today, he’s probably the playoff MVP.
The centre from Guelph, Ont., is remarkable in that while scoring always drops in the Stanley Cup tournament, Couture’s scoring rate goes up from the regular season.
In his 10-year career with the Sharks, Couture has 240 goals and 507 points in 663 regular-season games. In 112 playoff games, he has 47 goals and 100 points. His points per game increase to 0.89 in the playoffs from 0.76 in the regular season.
"I don’t know, I wish I knew," Couture said when asked to explain himself. "I wish I could score like this all the time. These games mean so much. I try and play as hard as I can and I just happen to score some goals.
"You’re playing for the Stanley Cup here. We’ve never won it, I’ve never won it and it’s something I want to do for this team and this city. I’m definitely proud of being able to contribute and help this team win. But until we win the Stanley Cup, I won’t be satisfied."