PITTSBURGH -- The San Jose Sharks stayed alive in the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Thursday. The two No. 2 centers each played a big role in the game for their respective teams.
Sharks center Logan Couture won the in-game battle against Penguins center Evgeni Malkin to help his team win the game and force Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday (8:00 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
Couture was involved on San Jose's first three goals, scoring one and assisting on the other two. It was exactly what the Sharks needed from one of their top players and the leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Couture became the first of San Jose's big three forwards, including Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, to score in this series. He now has nine goals and 29 points in the playoffs. He had two points, both assists, in the first four games of the series.
Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Couture deflects it past Murray
"That's my goal when I come to the rink, help the team try to score a goal," Couture said. "We know we haven't scored many goals, or any, in this series. It's one of the reasons why [we were] down 3-1. We didn't want the season to end tonight."
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin did what he could to try and end the Sharks' season. He scored a power-play goal, his second in as many games, and was dominant on several shifts, helping the Penguins come at the Sharks in waves.
San Jose goalie Martin Jones made saves on Malkin's other five shots, limiting him when he was playing like the dominant power forward he is supposed to be. It's not often the Penguins lose on a night when Malkin plays that way, but Couture was a big reason why they did Thursday.
Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Malkin banks it past Jones for PPG
Here is the in-game stats matchup and breakdown between Malkin and Couture:
Goals: Malkin 1, Couture 1
Assists: Malkin 0, Couture 2
Points: Malkin 1, Couture 3
Ice time: Malkin 21:28, Couture 19:12
Key intangible stat: Malkin had six shots on goal. Couture had five shots on goal and three hits.
Best moment: Couture gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 2:53 of the first period, but it was his second assist of the game that made his and the Sharks' night.
Couture set up Melker Karlsson for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal at 14:47 of the first period with a one-touch backhanded pass off a feed from defenseman Brenden Dillon. Couture's pass, from the bottom of the left circle, went right to Karlsson on the left hash marks. Karlsson did the rest, floating a shot into the net off of the bottom of goalie Matt Murray's glove.
Malkin brought life back into the building with his second power-play goal in as many games at 4:44 of the first to cut San Jose's lead to 2-1. He got the puck in the bottom of the right circle off of a cross-zone pass from right wing Phil Kessel. Malkin's patience paid off as he made a quick move, got Jones to bite and banked a shot in off of defenseman Justin Braun.
Series stat line (goals-assists-points): Malkin 2-1-3; Couture 1-4-5