Sharks’ Logan Couture reportedly out long term with fractured ankle

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—The Sharks will reportedly be without injured captain Logan Couture for several weeks, delivering a potentially crippling blow to the team’s already fading playoff hopes for this season.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN and the Athletic tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Couture may have a fractured left ankle and that he could be out “at least six weeks.”

Couture was injured in the second period of the Sharks’ 3-2 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday after an awkward collision with Blues defenceman Vince Dunn. He left the game immediately and was in a walking boot after the game, according to interim coach Bob Boughner.

Boughner added Tuesday night that he believed X-rays on Couture were negative. Couture flew back to San Jose with the Sharks late Tuesday evening and was expected to be reevaluated Wednesday.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment and the team may not provide an official medical update on Couture until Thursday morning.

The Sharks host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday evening, their first game back after they went 2-2-1 on a five-game road trip that left them with a 19-22-4 overall record.

The Sharks entered Wednesday in sixth place in the Pacific Division and 13th place in the Western Conference with 42 points. Both the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks came into Wednesday tied for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot with 50 points.

A six-to-eight week absence means that Couture would likely not return to play until late February or early March. The Sharks have seven games remaining this month and play 13 games in February.

The Sharks have made the playoffs in 14 of the last 15 seasons, missing the post-season only in 2015.

Couture, 30, has 548 points in 708 career NHL regular season games and leads the Sharks this season with 36 points in 45 games. Last week, he was selected to be a part of the Pacific Division team for the NHL all-star game later this month in St. Louis.

The Sharks’ next leading scorer this season is centre Tomas Hertl with 33 points, followed by Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson with 32 points each.

Couture has had a severe lower leg injury before. In Oct. 2015, Couture suffered a fractured fibula at his right ankle in a team practice in Newark, N.J. He had surgery to have pins inserted in his ankle and missed roughly eight weeks.

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