Playing their third game in four nights, the Washington Capitals played a strong first 40 minutes but totally ran out of gas against a more rested San Jose Sharks team and lost, 3-2, at HP Pavillion. The Caps, who have not won in San Jose since October of 1993 are now 0-10-1 in their last 11 trips to the Shark Tank. The loss drops the Capitals to 30-19-10 (70 points) and they missed a chance to pull closer to the Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning (74 points), who were crushed on home ice, 6-2, by the Detroit Red Wings.
Here are the highlights and analysis of a game that was nowhere near as exciting as Wednesday night’s victory in Anaheim:
- Alexander Ovechkin (1 goal, 1 assist) scored the first Capitals goal on the power play, but it came right after the Washingon’s struggling man advantage unit gave up a shorthanded goal when John Carlson fell down at the right point and then Ovie didn’t do a good job of cutting off the pass on a two on one break. As a result Patrick Marleau slid the biscuit to Joe Pavelski in the slot and he buried it by Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth (25 saves).
- The Sharks are definitely a very good team but Washington, in the first two periods, were a lot better than they were against the Sharks in San Jose’s 2-0 victory last week at the Verizon Center. Washington held an 18-14 shots advantage after two but the scoring opportunities for both teams were fairly even. Brooks Laich had a golden opportunity to give Washington the lead in that middle frame on a rebound of a Mike Knuble shot, but somehow his first attempt was blocked and he fired the next one through the crease. That miss would be one that #21 and the Caps will definitely want back and it likely cost Washington the game.
- With Mike Green and Tom Poti still out due to injury, the Sharks then took advantage of a less mobile defensive crew in the third period when Washington looked extremely tired. As a result, the Sharks notched two final stanza markers to grab a 3-1 advantage and then hung on after Nicklas Backstrom cut the margin to one with just 1:55 remaining.
- Neuvirth did all he could to keep his squad in this one and he really had little chance on all three Sharks tallies. At the other end, 2010 Stanley Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi only gave up the two screened shots to Ovechkin and Backstrom. He didn’t have to do a whole lot in a final period that was dominated by San Jose (outshot the Caps 14-7).
Notes: Marcus Johansson logged 18:18 of ice time as the second line center…the Great #8 had seven shots on goal and four hits and was, once again, the best Capital on the ice…Alexander Semin, fresh off a hat trick, only had one shot on goal and was pretty much a non factor. He needs a true center…#28′s four hat tricks this season have come against Chris Mason, Mike Smith, Danny Ellis, and Curtis McElhinney. There isn’t a #1 goalie on that list…the Caps lost the face-off battle, 28-23. Backstrom was a brutal 7-13…Carlson had two assists after a rough start. He and Karl Alzner were once again the top blue line duo for Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau…Washington’s next game is Sunday at 1230pm from Buffalo against the Sabres on NBC…Caps GM George McPhee is not on the road trip and is hopefully working the phones in an attempt to upgrade the talent on this club by next Monday’s trade deadline (2/28 at 3pm).