– A four-day break in the schedule turned out to be a bonus for
the San Jose Sharks. The NHL-pacing club roared to a 7-2 win over
the Washington Capitals at sold-out HP Pavilion Saturday night to
advance to 11-0-1 on home ice.
SAN JOSE – A four-day break in the schedule turned out to be a bonus for the San Jose Sharks. The NHL-pacing club roared to a 7-2 win over the Washington Capitals at sold-out HP Pavilion Saturday night to advance to 11-0-1 on home ice.
The Sharks, owners of a 10-point bulge in the Pacific Division standings over runner-up Anaheim, parlayed only five shots in the first period into a 3-0 lead. San Jose extended its lead to four goals after two periods by adding a power-play goal and a 4-on-4 goal, sending the Capitals to only their sixth regulation loss in 20 games.
San Jose had not played since completing a two-game roadtrip on Monday with a 4-1 victory over Nashville.
The Sharks were atop the NHL in terms of shots per game (37.9) entering Saturday’s showdown. San Jose had posted at least 31 shots on net in 17 of 20 outings, then churned out 28 shots at Washington.
The hosts made the most of just three shots in the first 12:34 of action to take a 2-0 lead.
Patrick Marleau notched his 10th goal of the campaign at 9:13 when he turned a feed from Dan Boyle into a blast from the right circle dot past goalie Brent Johnson.
The third shot for the Sharks came at 12:34 when Ryan Clowe backhanded a rebound of a Rob Blake shot toward the net. Capital defenseman Shaone Morrisonn fumbled an attempt to clear the puck from the crease area, instead tapping it into the net to make it 2-0.
San Jose moved ahead 3-0 at 15:45 of the first on a one-timer by Devin Setoguchi in the right circle off a feed from Joe Thornton from the corner.
“The first half of the game, we were sluggish and didn’t skate well,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan.
“We weren’t the better team the first 30 minutes. The three-goal lead allowed us to find our legs.”
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau had the same opinion of the early going.
“I thought that despite being down 3-0, we played pretty well in the first period. They had three goals on five shots and I think those shots were extremely well-placed.”
Washington cut into the Sharks advantage at 7:56 of the second. Former Shark Matt Bradley’s tough shot from the right flank skimmed across the front the goal area before defenseman Tom Poti charged past the San Jose defense to nudge the puck into the net.
San Jose’s response was a two-goal outburst to conclude the period. When Cap Michael Nylander held Shark Christian Ehrhoff, the power play needed 74 seconds to create a 4-1 lead. Marc Edouard-Vlasic’s hard shot from the left point was deftly redirected by Thornton over Johnson’s shoulder at the 12:19 mark.
“It’s a play we’ve worked on,” said Vlasic.
Vlasic needed no help to make it 5-1. The defenseman’s shot from the point fooled Johnson with 32.2 seconds left while the teams were skating 4-on-4. Blake earned his second assist of the night, Jonathan Cheechoo his first.
The Sharks answered with two goals after a Capital goal at 2:19 to complete the scoring.
Alexander Ovechkin’s feed to Tomas Fleischmann at the right post resulted in a tap-in behind San Jose goalie Brian Boucher on a Cap power play. Clowe added his second goal of the night at 5:44 with the Sharks on a 5-on-3 power play. Clowe gave the puck to Blake, then skated into position at the right edge of the crease to collect the rebound of Blake’s shot and stuff it past Johnson. Blake finished with four assists and Milan Michalek earned his second assist of the night on the play. Mike Grier completed a 2-on-1 rush with Jeremy Roenick to score from close range with 52.3 seconds to go.
San Jose plays host to Chicago Wednesday before spending the Thanksgiving break on the road. The Sharks play at Dallas Friday, Phoenix Saturday.
“Chicago’s a very good skating team so we had better have our legs early,” McLellan cautioned.