Logan Couture describes himself as always having been a "streaky player."
Well, as far as Couture and his streaks, he's never had one quite like this.
Striking for his seventh goal in only the Sharks' eighth game during Monday's 4-1 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Couture has logged a career-best six goals and nine points over his last four games. That's his best offensive output - regardless if counting goals or points - over any four-game stretch during his nine-year career whether it's the regular season or playoffs.
Couture now has more than twice as many goals as any teammate, and he's the first to reach double-digits in points. Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc are next closest to Couture's 10 points with six apiece.
"Right now it just seems like the puck is following me around," Couture said. "Those are the days you enjoy coming to the rink and you know you're going to get some scoring chances."
Couture's early-season explosion couldn't have come at a better time as the team has otherwise been scuffling to find offense. Special teams' play has shown improvement, goaltending from Martin Jones and Aaron Dell has been strong and San Jose has definitely played well in stretches. But what's kept the Sharks around .500 early is a lack of goals.
"We've got to get some scoring and we can't wait for Joe Thornton or Joe Pavelski or Brent Burns to do it every night," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We've got to get other guys consistently bringing positive results to the rink every night. On the nights you're not bringing offense make sure you're having a positive effect on the game. And that's the challenge."
Couture is living up to that challenge.
There's no question the 28-year-old native of Guelph, Ontario, wants to take it upon himself to fuel the Sharks' attack. His numbers - 25 goals and 52 points in 73 games - were certainly not bad last season, but as a top-six forward with talent around him, Couture and the Sharks want and need more.
"Looking back over the summer at my year, it was OK," Couture admitted. "It could have been better, and I wanted to improve this season."
Couture's regular season came to an abrupt end on March 25 at Nashville when, set up in front of the Predators' net, he was struck in the mouth by a deflected puck originally shot from the point by teammate Brent Burns. The gruesome injury led to extensive temporary dental work in the hopes of saving his teeth and allowing him a chance to get back on the ice if he could tolerate the pain.
Between he and Joe Thornton playing on one leg in the playoffs, it was hard to choose who was the tougher warrior. Suffice to say, both left it all on the ice. And, fortunately for Couture, the injury did not prevent him from training as he normally would over the summer. His teeth were fixed with his bottom row remaining intact and the top requiring some false teeth. He had the last of multiple root canals just days before the start of training camp.
And now he looks as good as new - literally and figuratively.
"I think he's been through a lot in the last 12 months," DeBoer said. "And he looks like the player who led the Stanley Cup playoffs in scoring a little over a year ago. It's good to see, we're going to need him."
Video: SJS@NYI: Couture tallies second career hat trick
Couture was already a household name in the South Bay, but he burst on to the national stage when he scored 10 goals and added 20 assists for 30 points - the latter two figures led the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs in scoring. The earliest Couture reached seven goals in any previous season was in his 13th game in 2013-14. During his two best goal totals - 32 in 2010-11 and 31 in 2011-12 - Couture needed 17 games each season to hit the seven-goal mark.
"We know he's an elite level player," DeBoer said. "There's no doubt we need some guys to take a step. And he's one of them for sure. The one thing about him is he's done it before. We're not asking him to do something he hasn't done - just to play to that level for a year. As long as he stays healthy I think he will."
If counted on to produce points was Couture's main focus, he might be labeled a one-dimensional player. Nothing is further from the truth. Couture is arguably the team's most valuable forward with all he does in terms of offense, defense, playing in all situations and as part of the team's lettered leadership.
Does he think he can provide even more?
"There's a lot of things," Couture started. "I want to be good on special teams whether it's power play or penalty kill. I want to be good defensively. I don't want to give other teams Grade-A chances. We usually play against other teams' top line, and we take pride in shutting those guys down or trying to shut them down and force them to play defense.
"There's lots of things - forget about points - that I try to do when I come to the rink."
Well, we're not going to forget about the points. With five goals and seven points over three games leading into Monday, Couture was honored as the NHL's Third Star of the Week. His previous best four-game stretch came March 29-April 5, 2016 when Couture managed five goals and six points. His only career hat trick before Saturday's three-goal effort against the Islanders came March 29, 2016 against Vancouver.
But don't expect Couture to rest of his recent laurels.
"I feel I still have improvement in my game," he said. "I'm trying to learn each day. You never have this game all figured out. There's so much to learn. I'm lucky to play with some very good players. I pick up stuff off of them, and try to improve each day."