Puck Daddy - NHL

WASHINGTON, DC -- What's the most meaningless stat in hockey?

Plus/minus is mentioned prominently in this debate, but we'd offer game-winning goals are just as, or more, superfluous. The second goal scored by the victorious team in a 7-1 rout is a "game winner," for example.

But inspiration comes from odd places in hockey: It's this unessential glamour stat that helped motivate San Jose Sharks rookie star Logan Couture(notes) in his team's 2-0 victory at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

On the way to the game, Sharks media relations manager Tom Holy told Couture that he was tied with Alex Ovechkin(notes) for the NHL lead in GWGs with seven.

"He said it was a battle of game-winning goals, because I think I was tied with Ovechkin going into tonight. He said, 'You gotta beat'em in Washington,'" recalled Couture.

"Give him some credit for letting me know. And now I'm leading, I guess."

Couture's goal at 11:55 of the third period broke a scoreless tie and surprised Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth(notes), who had made 34 saves prior to that.

"I think he was thinking pass, because he didn't get down quick enough. So it went five-hole," said Couture. "That one surprised me that it actually went in."

It was his 24th goal of the season and, for what it's worth, his second straight game-winning goal. "It's getting to the point where you don't want to call him a rookie anymore because he plays big minutes [and] he's scoring huge goals for our hockey club," said Sharks Coach Todd McLellan.

But he is a rookie, and this goal kept him ahead of his main competition for the Calder: Jeff Skinner(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes, who tallied two against the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 loss, giving him 20 on the year.

Couture was down in Raleigh for the NHL All-Star Game, where Skinner was celebrated like a rock star by local fans during the weekend. Did he feel like he was in enemy territory? "When I was announced a couple times, I heard a couple of boos," he said. "I laughed it off."

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