NEWARK, N.J. -- San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture sustained a fractured right fibula at the ankle in practice Thursday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks following surgery. He was the center on the Sharks' second line, playing between left wing Patrick Marleau and right wing Joel Ward.
While admitting that losing Couture for an extended period of time is an unfortunate turn of events for a team off to a 3-0-0 start this season, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he doesn't want anyone dwelling on the bad news.
"We haven't spent a lot of time on it; it's a reality," DeBoer said Friday from Prudential Center, where the Sharks will play the New Jersey Devils. "He's out, and until he's back someone else has to do the job."
Couture is an all-situations forward for the Sharks. He has one assist in three games this season and has averaged 17:52 of ice time per game, second among Sharks forwards. Last season he had 27 goals and 67 points in 82 games.
"He's obviously disappointed," DeBoer said of Couture. "But he's a character kid and he'll be back."
DeBoer will move Tomas Hertl from the third line to Couture's spot on the second line Friday against the Devils. Hertl has two goals in three games.
"I don't think I've played with [Hertl] as a centerman yet, so it will be a little interesting," Marleau said. "He's a big body, highly skilled, and I'm looking forward to him protecting pucks down low and making plays."
Chris Tierney, who was San Jose's fourth-line center, will move to the third line and play between Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels.
Ben Smith will make his season debut and play center on the fourth line between Barclay Goodrow and Mike Brown.
Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and rookie Nikolay Goldobin make up the Sharks' first line. Goldobin was recalled from San Jose of the American Hockey League on Friday and will play in place of Joonas Donskoi, who is out because of a lower-body injury.
"You don't replace Logan Couture," Pavelski said. "He has a big presence through the middle for us. He plays in all situations, [penalty kill], power play. So we're filling a few holes. But guys will slide into those slots and do the job. It doesn't really change the way we want to play or anything."
DeBoer said Couture was injured when his skate got stuck in a rut in the ice during practice Thursday at Prudential Center.
"And someone leaned on him," DeBoer said. "That's basically the long and short of it."
DeBoer, who coached the Devils for three and a half seasons before being fired Dec. 26, 2014, said he never experienced a problem with the ice at Prudential Center.
"They've got a good ice staff here," he said. "I've never had an issue."
Marleau said some of the Sharks players are a bit perturbed that the injury occurred in practice and not during a game, but Pavelski said San Jose has intense practices and "that's how it goes.
"You need to keep that edge in practice," Pavelski said. "You hate to see it happen. But you have to adjust and someone is going to have to fill in."
DeBoer said if there was any way to put a positive spin on the negative news, it's that the injury took place in October instead of a winter month.
"It's not the second half, we're not heading into the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs," he said. "If there is a silver lining that would be about it.
"We've got to cope with it like everybody else does."