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Joe Thornton, Logan Couture could play for Sharks

San Jose centers game-decisions against Oilers

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- San Jose Sharks centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture are game-time decisions for Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS CA).

Thornton, who missed the final three games of the regular season because of a knee injury, and Couture, who missed the final seven games after being hit in the face with a puck, participated in an optional morning skate at Rogers Place. 

Thornton, who was the first player on the ice and skated for 20 minutes, will decide himself if he's going to play Wednesday.

"You want to play," said Thornton, who had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) this season. "This is the best time of year. We're doing everything we can to play tonight so we'll see what happens. I feel ahead of schedule but still, it's day to day, or hour to hour. So we'll see how I feel tonight and we'll go from there."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer is confident Thornton will know when he's ready to go.

"You never want to risk further injury," DeBoer said. "Joe's going to make that decision and nobody else. It's not just whether he can play but whether he can play at a level that can help us. He knows his body better than anybody. He knows his game better than anybody. If he's ready to go, he'll go. Hopefully that's tonight."

Couture said after the skate he didn't know if he was playing Game 1. He looked comfortable wearing a full cage to protect his face.

Video: ANA@SJS: Couture scores PPG in 500th NHL game

"It felt great," said Couture, who led the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) to help the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final. "The legs feel good, feel rested. I've had two and a half weeks of a rest and I felt pretty good this morning."

The cage was no issue, he said.

"It's been a while, 13 years or so since I've had one of those things on," he said. "It's just extra protection for me."

Couture, who had 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 73 games during the regular season, said he wasn't worried about being targeted by the Oilers because of his injury.

"I don't think so," he said. "The goal for any playoff team is to go after the other guy's top guys and be physical. The last thing they want to do is take penalties so I don't think they're going to do anything special, no."

DeBoer said the Sharks are prepared to start the series against Edmonton without Thornton and Couture. 

"We've played without significant players at different points over the last two years and managed to stay competitive, and that's the plan," DeBoer said.

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