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Joe Thornton of Sharks won't play vs. Canucks

37-year-old center's streak of 201 games ended by knee injury

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Center Joe Thornton will not play for the San Jose Sharks against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CA+, SNP, NHL.TV) because of an apparent left-knee injury.

Thornton had an MRI on Monday, but coach Peter DeBoer did not reveal the results. Thornton declined interview requests but said he would talk to reporters Wednesday.

Thornton, 37, has appeared in 201 consecutive regular-season games, a streak that began on Jan. 10, 2015. He's missed nine games, seven because of injuries and two while suspended, since coming to San Jose from the Boston Bruins in a trade on Nov. 30, 2005.

Thornton was injured late in the first period of a 3-1 win at Vancouver on Sunday when he collided with Canucks forward Michael Chaput along the boards. Thornton's left knee appeared to buckle, and he struggled to skate off the ice before hobbling toward the locker room.

"You just take for granted that he's always there," DeBoer said. "But I think we're built for this type of adversity. We have depth. We have guys that can play [multiple] positions. It's an exciting challenge."

Thornton is fourth on the Sharks with 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) in 79 games.

Video: SJS@DAL: Thornton slams home a loose puck in front

The Sharks are also without center Logan Couture, who will miss his fifth straight game since being hit in the mouth by the puck after a deflection of a shot by defenseman Brent Burns against the Nashville Predators on March 25.

"I expect both of them will be back at some point," DeBoer said. "Until then, I'm going to call it day to day. I don't have a time frame on it."

Couture hasn't skated since he was injured but hopes to return for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin next week. The Sharks (44-28-7) have clinched a berth and are two points behind the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division. San Jose is 2-8-0 in its past 10 games.

"I'm going to try to," said Couture, whose 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 73 games are third on the Sharks, when asked about returning. "That's the goal, to play hockey. Today was a good day for me. Get some exercise and feel good and we'll go on to tomorrow. When we get there I'll see what I can do."

Couture said he's been able to eat solid foods, thanks to the medical care he received in Nashville, and hasn't lost weight.

"Right when it happened I went to the Nashville room," Couture said. "Their doctors and dentists did a great job trying to basically save my teeth. They had to move a lot of them around. Obviously from the impact of the puck, they were all shifted in my mouth. [They] did a great job at that time to try and save them.

"I went to Vanderbilt Hospital. They brought a guy in there to put what they call an arch bar on my teeth to try and save them. ... They're all damaged. A lot of these teeth are going to be taken out at some point once the season's over."

With Thornton and Couture out indefinitely, the Sharks will have to find a way to survive without two players who were critical to their run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

"Obviously it's a little different look for us, but we've had depth on this team," captain Joe Pavelski said. "And I think the structure to our system and our team game, it doesn't just rely on one guy or two guys. You don't get to where we were last year on one guy or two guys. ... If we can all kind of rally together, there's no reason we can't get the job done and be successful moving forward."

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