His team down 3-2 with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, Sharks rookie forward Logan Couture elected to take a shot from the side of the net instead of making a picture-perfect pass to a cutting linemate. Couture's shot somehow got by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and tied a game that San Jose went on to win in overtime, 4-3. Thanks to Couture's late goal and Patrick Marleau's game-winner at 7:07 of OT, the Sharks now take a commanding 3-0 lead in this second-round series.
Couture told FanHouse his billiards shot was the direct result of a young player listening to one of his assistant coaches, Jay Woodcroft.
"Jay told us to take the chances we had to throw it at (Howard's) feet," said Couture. "He pointed out to us that he cheats a lot. When I took the puck out of the corner and realized I was alone, I remembered an opportunity I had in Game 2. Instead of just getting the puck on net, I tried to thread a pass to Joe Thornton. The Detroit defense is so good, you realize shooting the puck is probably a better option than a fancy pass. I shot this time and it happened to go in."
For his part, Howard was defiant in discussing the back-breaking goal. "I would have done the same thing all over again," a dejected Howard said in the home team locker room less than 10 minutes after the game.
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock refused to fault his rookie goaltender, a nominee for this year's Calder Trophy.
"Your goalie picks you up some nights," said Mike Babcock. "Sometimes you have to pick him up. We didn't tonight."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he wasn't surprised the series turned on Couture's non-traditional goal.
"I've said it from the beginning of the series," said McLellan. "You're not going to get a lot of pretty goals in this series. You're going to get a lot of 'playoff' goals."
Evgeni Nabokov, the winning goalie for San Jose, sympathized with Howard.
"It's a bad feeling for a goalie," said Nabokov. "Those kinds of goals happen all the time in big spots in the playoffs. All you have to do is check the highlights. Guys are told to shoot from everywhere. Every team does it. It's ugly, but it can be successful. I thought Logan made a really smart play."
"I've scored goals like that before, but never in anything close to as big a game as tonight," said Couture. "This was the most important goal of my career -- by a mile."