SAN JOSE, Calif. – Logan Couture gets plenty of support from his teammates as an NHL rookie of the year contender. Now he is also being talked up by one of his top rivals for the award.
Couture and Dan Boyle scored 3:28 apart in the second period, leading the San Jose Sharks past the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday night.
“I don’t get to see the others play every other night but for me, hands down he’s the best rookie this year,” Boyle said of his teammate. “He’s been playing so well and he’s a two-way player. He does it on both ends. You can say he’s been our best player this year.”
Antero Niittymaki stopped 26 shots to beat the Oilers for the third time this season and give the Sharks their first three-game winning streak.
Dustin Penner scored for the Oilers, who lost for the third time in four games. Nikolai Khabibulin made 28 saves, but Edmonton’s three-game winning streak on the road ended.
Couture scored his fourth goal in three games against fellow NHL rookie of the year contenders Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Eberle had four goals in his previous three games, and Hall had three assists in the Oilers’ 6-3 victory over Columbus on Thursday.
“He’s a great player and he’s a go-to guy for a team like the Sharks,” Hall said. “That says a lot. He has the puck a lot and he’s strong down low.”
Couture created his own scoring opportunity, stealing the puck from Linus Omark in the neutral zone and executing a give-and-go with Ryane Clowe.
Clowe got one defenceman to commit before passing across the crease, giving Couture, who has an NHL-high 10 goals in December, a clean shot to the stick side past Khabibulin.
“The guy turned the puck over, and I got it to Ryane,” Couture said. “There aren’t too many players in this league who can make the play he made.”
The Sharks killed off a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second period.
“That was the turning point,” Boyle said.
Couture drew a penalty at the end of the two-man advantage, leading to both Sharks goals.
“When you don’t score on a 5-on-3 you don’t deserve to win,” Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney said. “All of a sudden it’s 2-0 and one of them was on a power play.”
Boyle scored a power-play goal after skating into the slot and firing a shot past Khabibulin, who was screened by Dany Heatley. Joe Thornton earned an assist to give him six against Edmonton in three games this season.
The Sharks scored a power-play goal for a fourth straight game, their longest streak since opening the season with a six-game run.
Penner, who has at least one point in five of six games, scored on a redirect from Whitney.
Whitney has a team-high 25 points, all assists.
NOTES: Boyle set the franchise record for most power-play goals by a defenceman with his 17th. … Jacques returned after being a healthy scratch the previous two games. … Sharks D Doug Murray took part in the morning skate but sat out a fifth straight game because of a lower back injury. … The Oilers have won seven games in which Hall has recorded a point. He has recorded a point in 12 of 13 overall. … Clowe has at least one point in nine of 12 games.