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Joe Thornton of Sharks could play in Game 2

San Jose center practices, may return from knee injury against Oilers on Friday

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton will be a game-time decision for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Thornton participated in an optional practice Thursday after missing a 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 on Wednesday with a knee injury. 

"It's coming along good," Thornton said. "It's a good sign, I feel better."

Thornton was injured at the Vancouver Canucks on April 2 and missed the final three games of the regular season.

 

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He took part in the morning skate Wednesday and said the decision not to play was made when he returned to Rogers Place prior to the game.

"I wanted to play, but it just didn't work out," Thornton said.

San Jose, which trailed 2-0 in the first period, won in overtime on a goal by Melker Karlsson at 3:22.

"You don't realize how nervous you can be when you're not out there," Thornton said. "I was just extremely happy [with the win]. It was such a good game by both teams, and what an ending for us, it was great."

Thornton was fourth in scoring for San Jose this season with 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists). He is second in Sharks all-time playoff scoring with 103 points (21 goals, 82 assists) in 121 games, behind Patrick Marleau, who has 116 points (65 goals, 51 assists) in 172 games.

Video: SJS@VAN: Thornton exits the game with apparent injury

"It's tough," Thornton said. "You want to be out there competing with the guys, but we're hoping to be in [the playoffs] for a long, long time, so if I can get a couple of days here and there that can help me out long term, it's going to be good for us, I think."

Winning the first game of the best-of-7 series and taking home-ice advantage away from Edmonton may take some pressure off Thornton to return for Game 2, giving him a few more days to recover. Game 3 is Sunday at San Jose.

"Yeah, it's huge," Thornton said. "It was a big win and I hope to come out tomorrow and join the guys and we'll just have to wait and see, but it was a huge win for us."

Center Logan Couture played in Game 1 after missing the final seven games of the regular season after taking a puck in the face at the Nashville Predators on March 25. Couture played with a full face shield, had 20:41 of ice time and didn't have a point.

"That's the main thing, was playing the first game, and fortunately, we were able to win it," Couture said. "For me, I can be better, but the positive is that we won the game and I look forward to getting into the game tomorrow."

Couture had 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 73 games in the regular season.

"Handling the puck, making plays, I felt like -- especially on the power play -- I threw some pucks away," Couture said. "I lost some pucks that normally I make better plays on. Just handling the puck and timing and all that stuff. Part of it is being away from the game for two and a half weeks, and part of it is wearing that cage and getting used to it."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer had a different assessment of Couture's play.

"I thought it was a gutsy performance by him," DeBoer said. "He has high standards for himself, which is what makes him great. But if you knew what he'd been through in the last month and the damage to his face and his mouth and what he's been able to eat and drink and how little he's slept and all those things. ... I thought it was a real gutsy performance and not nearly as bad as he thought it was."

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