Sharks extend mastery over Capitals
Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley scored third-period goals to help the San Jose Sharks beat Washington 3-2 Thursday night for their 14th win in their last 15 meetings with the Capitals.
Joe Pavelski had a short-handed goal and Antti Niemi made 23 saves for the Sharks, who followed up last week's 2-0 win at Washington with another victory over the Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who have lost four of five. One night after breaking out offensively in a 7-6 win at Anaheim, Washington once again struggled to score and now has 10 losses and one tie in its last 11 trips to San Jose. The Capitals have five goals in their past four losses.
For the second time in just more than a week, these teams went into the third period tied only to have the Sharks come up with the big plays for the win.
Kyle Wellwood got the winning play started this time when he fired a puck from the boards to the front of the crease. Clowe knocked it down with his stick and then backhanded the puck past a sprawling Michal Neuvirth for his 15th goal to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead 4:27 into the final period.
San Jose added what proved to be the game-winner on the power play midway through the third when Heatley tipped in a point shot from Dan Boyle that deflected off the stick of a Washington defender, Pavelski and Joe Thornton before Heatley knocked it past Neuvirth. That ended a string of 12 straight failed power plays for the Sharks, who had gone five straight games without scoring with the man advantage.
The Capitals got one goal back when Nicklas Backstrom scored with 1:55 remaining, but could not get the equalizer.
The Sharks returned home from a two-week road swing in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race after winning five of seven games on the trip. This began a stretch of 15 home games in the final 24 contests, which normally would be a good omen except for the fact that San Jose had won only half its home games heading into this contest.
The Sharks will need to improve that home mark if they want to make it to the playoffs in the jam-packed Western Conference where only three points separate the third and ninth-place teams. The Sharks are tied for fourth with 70 points.
There were only a few scoring chances in the first two periods, with the only goals coming 22 seconds apart on the same power play in the closing minutes of the first period.
Just nine seconds after Ben Eager was sent off for tripping Ovechkin in the offensive zone, John Carlson lost the puck at the point for Washington. Patrick Marleau came up with it and fed the puck to Pavelski, who fired a hard shot past Neuvirth for the first goal of the game.
The Capitals responded almost immediately when Ovechkin beat Niemi with a wrist shot from the top of the circles for his 23rd goal that tied it with 48.6 seconds left in the first period.