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Line juggling sparks Sharks in Game 5 win

Rearranging bottom nine forwards pays dividends in victory against Nashville

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer juggled his bottom three forward lines, and his moves paid big dividends in a 5-1 victory against the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Saturday.

DeBoer's biggest change was moving Patrick Marleau from third-line center to left wing on the second line. That reunited him with center Logan Couture, his linemate for much of the previous two seasons. Speedy rookie Joonas Donskoi remained on the right wing.

Marleau scored the Sharks' first goal when he took a pass from Donskoi below the left circle and beat Pekka Rinne with a slap shot at 10:47 of the first period, giving San Jose a 1-0 lead. Couture scored in the second period. Donskoi had assists on that goal as well, and Marleau had an assist on Joe Pavelski's power-play goal in the second period.

"I thought it was Patty's best game of the series, and that line was excellent all night," DeBoer said of Marleau. "Some changes work, and tonight that change worked."

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm5: Marleau buries home Donskoi's feed

Fourth-line center Chris Tierney moved to the third line, taking Marleau's spot, and skated with Matt Nieto and Joel Ward, who dropped down one line. Nick Spaling centered the fourth line between Melker Karlsson and Dainius Zubrus, who made his 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, replacing Tommy Wingels.

DeBoer said Tierney's improved play made it possible for him to juggle those lines.

"I felt he could jump into that third-line role," DeBoer said. "Spaling's naturally a center. That allowed him to get back into position. We're not comfortable making that move unless Tierney is playing well, and he has been playing well."

Couture said it was easy getting back in synch with Marleau.

"We're comfortable in the way that each other plays," Couture said. "Patty was really playing well tonight. He was skating, he was making some big plays with the puck, he scored a big goal; on the power play he made a great pass to [Pavelski]. Patty was really good tonight."

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm5: Couture slips puck five-hole past Rinne

Couture continue his strong play against Nashville. He took a long pass from Donskoi and beat Rinne on a breakaway 35 seconds into the second period, increasing San Jose's lead to 3-1. Couture faked left, went right and put a backhand through Rinne's pads for his fourth goal of the series.

"I was dying for a chance for a breakaway," Couture said. "I saw (Anaheim's Andrew) Cogliano did that to him in the first round. It's a move I have used a lot so I was hoping I'd get a chance to use it. It was nice."

Marleau said he felt comfortable with Couture and Donskoi from the outset.

"It was nice," Marleau said. "They're good to play with."

Video: Postgame 5/7: DeBoer

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