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Nyquist having whirlwind week for Sharks during playoffs

Forward preparing for Game 4 against Avalanche after birth of daughter in Detroit, playing one night later

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DENVER -- Gustav Nyquist decided to stay off the ice for the San Jose Sharks during an optional practice Wednesday.

Who could blame him.

With the Sharks preparing for Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS), Nyquist took the time to recount what has been a whirlwind week.

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

The Sharks, who lead the best-of-7 series 2-1, will look to move within one win of the Western Conference Final. But no matter what happens in the game certainly won't be able to compare to what's happened to Nyquist in the past few days.

Following Game 2 in San Jose on Sunday, the forward flew to Detroit to be with his wife, Danielle, for the birth of their first child.

Daughter Charlotte arrived during the planned delivery Monday morning, and then Nyquist flew to Denver on Tuesday, in time to contribute two assists in the Sharks' 4-2 win in Game 3.

Video: Couture's hat trick propels Sharks to Game 3 victory

"Just coming in the same day [of the game], it was what it was so it was nice to be able to spend some time with the family back home and nice to finish off the day with a big win at night," Nyquist said Wednesday.

When Nyquist was traded to the Sharks after eight seasons with the Red Wings on Feb. 25, Danielle stayed in Detroit. Monday was the first time Nyquist had been back since the trade, only seeing Danielle during her one brief visit to San Jose.

Nyquist described being with his wife for Charlotte's birth as feeling "incredible."

"It's a special moment that all parents have been through," he said.

Coach Peter DeBoer said it wasn't easy for Nyquist to not see his wife for two months, but said the forward waived his no-movement clause and accepted the trade to San Jose because he's thinking about his future.

"We knew it was going to be tough," DeBoer said. "Big sacrifice. He wants to win, and for him it's a contract year (he can be an unrestricted free agent July 1) and he wants to put himself in a good spot for next year.

"I think those are the sacrifices that people don't see that NHL guys make around the League, that they're leaving their families, coaches, players, everybody."

Nyquist played a big role in the Game 3 win, getting an assist on Logan Couture's game-winning goal at 12:50 of the third period. Nyquist intercepted a clearing pass by Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, kept the puck inside the Avalanche blue line and got it quickly down to an open Couture going to the Avalanche net.

Video: SJS@COL, Gm3: Couture restores lead for Sharks

Couture had a hat trick and Timo Meier, their other linemate, also scored against the Avalanche.

Couture said he continues to be impressed by Nyquist, for what he's done on the ice and the commitment he's shown to his family this week.

"When you're with an organization for eight years and then you go coast to coast and leave your family behind, not an easy situation," Couture said. "But he's come in and fit in very well and played very well for us.

"Tough situation for him [for Game 3], probably didn't get much sleep. Bunch of flights. I thought he played really, really well under those circumstances."

Nyquist has six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 playoff games this season after he had 60 points (22 goals, 38 assists) in 81 regular-season games, including 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 19 games for the Sharks after the trade.

"He's smart," Couture said. "He's fast. His speed can make up for mistakes that myself or Timo can make and he covers for us a bunch of times with this speed."

DeBoer said Nyquist has been a good fit for the Sharks because of his intelligence and his hockey IQ.

"I've said all along, good players want to play with good players and sometimes there are fits and sometimes there isn't," DeBoer said. "I know Logan likes playing with guys like that, that can find him in holes or give and go and make those little plays through people in order to find room. He plays an honest game. He's been good defensively. He's been blocking shots. I think his defensive game is underrated."

Contributions from Couture, Meier and Nyquist have been needed. The Sharks have been without forwards Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi in the series, each out with undisclosed injuries. Donskoi was injured in Game 6 of the first round against Vegas; Pavelski in Game 7 against Vegas.

"I think [Nyquist] has found his rhythm here in this series," DeBoer said. "It started in the last series, we saw pieces of it in the Vegas series, but I think it's starting to come consistently now, which is important. We needed it.

"With Donskoi and Pavelski out, two guys that potentially are top-nine guys in our lineup, we needed some people to step up and he's one of them."

The mindset for Game 4 will be to keep that kind of momentum going.

"You're up 2-1, we have an opportunity to go up 3-1 instead of having them tie it up," said Nyquist, who had a goal in a 5-2 Sharks win in Game 1 against Colorado. "We know what's at stake. It's a huge game and we'll be ready for tomorrow."

Video: COL@SJS, Gm1: Nyquist sweeps home rebound to tie game

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