PITTSBURGH -- Center Logan Couture is often the conscience of the San Jose Sharks, especially in bad times.
Times haven't been much worse for the Sharks than they are now, not after a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday has them trailing 2-0 in the best-of-7 series. Only three of the 36 teams that opened a Final with back-to-back losses on the road have come back to win the Stanley Cup. If the Sharks are to be the fourth, they will have to be much better than they were during the first two games.
Game 3 is Saturday at SAP Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"We need to be a lot better," Couture said. "We know if we play this way, we're not going to win games."
The Sharks have managed 58 shots in the two games; too many of those have come from the perimeter. The shot attempts in the series are 126-107 in Pittsburgh's favor. The Penguins' aggressive forecheck and team speed have forced the Sharks into far too many turnovers and failed transitions from defense to offense.
"We're not getting shots through, we are forcing things," Couture said. "There are things that worked in the first couple of rounds that got us here. We need to be better in their end."
A turnover by defenseman Roman Polak, followed by a bad defensive read, led to the first Pittsburgh goal, by Phil Kessel, at 8:20 of the second period that made it 1-0.
The winning goal, 2:35 into overtime by rookie left wing Conor Sheary, came after a lost faceoff by Joel Ward
to Sidney Crosby followed by a slow reaction by San Jose's wings in getting out to the point. That allowed defenseman Kris Letang to make a pass to Sheary for a screened wrist shot from between the circles that went over the glove of goalie Martin Jones
Couture believes that Crosby should not have been taking the faceoff on the play that led to the winning goal, saying that the Penguins captain regularly cheats on draws and did so on the winning play. He felt Crosby should have been thrown out of the circle for jumping the gun on the drop of the puck.
"He gets away with it; he's Sidney Crosby," Couture said. "He times them and they don't kick him out for some reason, probably because of who he is."
Couture wasn't the only one with that opinion. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic also believes Crosby got away with one.
"They won a draw and scored," he said. "Maybe he should have been kicked out; it took a while to get into the faceoff. But what do I know?''
Couture actually knows that the faceoff win by Crosby is merely a symptom of the problem that has placed his team in an 0-2 hole in its first trip to the Cup Final in the franchise's 25-year history.
He has been bluntly honest about his team and its performance, especially after losses. He was again Wednesday.
"We can't be turning the puck over like we are," he said. "It's fixable, but we have to go out and do it.
"We have to win in our building, plain and simple. Go and try to win the first one in Game 3 and go from there."
by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial