Joe Pavelski’s four point night which included two goals combined with Patrick Marleau’s two goals, plus Thomas Greiss’ 39 saves enabled the San Jose Sharks to take down the Washington Capitals 5-3 Monday night. With the win the Sharks pick up two valuable points to keep the third spot in the Western Conference Standings. Team teal also continued their mastery over the Capitals in defeating them for the 16th time in the last 17 meetings dating back several seasons. Griess, who started so the Sharks could give Antti Niemi a much deserved and earned night off, came up strong and made many key saves in denying the Capitals on their first 29 shots on goal. Sharks team Captain Joe Thornton added three assist to help team teal capture this contest.
The Sharks took advantage of Washington Capitals back up goalie Braden Holtby who started in place of Tomas Vokoun. A flu bug prevented Vokoun from participating. Holtby, who was called up from the Capitals minor league affiliate in Hershey, PA. earlier was in his first NHL start since last March. Holtby held his own for awhile however the Sharks attack which was held scoreless the previous night in St Louis was more than Holtby may have been ready to handle. The Sharks were able to assert themselves throughout the contest and were able take care of business with some of the breaks they would get. Meanwhile Greiss with the win Monday night improves his road record to 4-1-1 and is 8-4-1 overall in starts in place of Niemi. The Sharks are now sporting an overall record of 31-17-6 for a total of 68 points in the Western Conference standings.
Looking Back on How the Sharks Capitalized:
Road Sweet Road – The Sharks from the time the puck dropped Monday evening showed they were more than anxious to get the bitter taste of the previous nights game out of their mouths. Team teal went on the attack early to test Holtby. The Sharks got an early power play opportunity when the Capitals Joel Ward was given two minutes for interfering with Greiss by knocking him out of the goal crease while the Caps were on the attack. Though the Sharks did not cash in this opportunity they had several good looks at Holtby and were just chomping at the bit to score. Meanwhile, Greiss was quite active on the other end of the ice making key saves of his own, including a hard slap shot from Alexander Semin and later a short handed opportunity by the Caps Brooks Laich.
The Sharks would tally the first goal in a fashion that would have made the just retired former Shark Owen Nolan proud. Dan Boyle, who had a bad turn over moments early which gave the Capitals a short handed chance this time took no chances. Boyle from outside the Sharks defensive blue line about three feet from center ice drilled a strong slap shot that rocketed and deflected of Pavelski’s stick. The puck took a weird bounce that Holtby could not handle and it bounced on into the net. The Sharks had a 1-0 lead and at this point were happy to break a scoreless drought. Greiss would uphold his end of the bargin meanwhile and made 12 first period saves.
Capital Gains – Team Teal would strike early in the second period thanks to an early power play opportunity when the Capital’s Laich was called for high sticking, also negating a Washington power play in the process. With 16:40 left in the period, Thornton won a battle for the puck in the left corner of the Caps defensive zone. Thornton got the puck over to Logan Couture. Approaching the Caps goal, Couture spotted Pavelski camped in front of Holtby and fed him the puck. Pavelski did the rest by launching the puck top shelf and hitting his target in the net. The power play goal gave the Sharks a two goal lead.
Later the Sharks would get another power play opportunity and would cash in this one. The Capitals Jeff Halpern would get whistled for high sticking with 5:15 remaining in the period. It took the Sharks about a minute and a half to convert this man advantage as Pavelski would drill a slap shot from the left point that Holtby was able to get his body on it, only to see the puck somehow get behind him. Also behind Holtby was Marleau who had sneaked in and tipped the rubber biscut in to the basket and the Sharks were in command with a 3-0 lead. A few minutes later the Sharks had a chance to take a four goal lead however Holtby made a diving save of a Couture point blank shot from the right side of the net after Brent Burns launched a feed pass from the left point.
Greiss himself would find himself under a great deal of pressure as he made 16 saves in the period. The one that would get away from Greiss was the 17th and last Capitals Shot on goal of the period. This happened literally a half second before the period was over. The Capitals Dmitry Orlov was able to get the puck out of a scramble along the boards. Orlov then launched a blistering slap shot that was a laser that drilled the back of the Sharks goal. The play was reviewed and the replay unfortunately for the Sharks showed the puck crossing the goal line with 0:00.8 left. The Capitals goal was upheld and the Sharks had a two goal lead going into the final period.
More Capital Punishment – The Sharks came out strong again in the third period as the Capitals defense seemed to have few answers on stopping the Sharks forechecks and team teal’s domination of the Capitals’ defensive zone. Burns restored the Sharks three goal lead just over four minutes into the third period as he was able to take advantage of a good screen by teammate John McCarthy who was able block out Holtby from seeing the on coming puck which laced the back of the net. The play was set up Thornton and Pavelski collectively winning a battle for the puck and being able to get it over to Burns. From there, Burns hard slap shot from the right point did the rest.
Just a few moments later the Sharks would once again find themselves on yet another power play. Washington’s Jay Beagle would get escorted to the penalty box for tripping shorty after Burns goal. The Sharks needed about a little over a minute to make the Caps pay yet again. This time, it would be Clowe who would bring the puck up ice with Thonrton and Marleau flanked to either side of him. Clowe would pass the puck over to Thornton who would then immediately put it towards the net. Holtby was not able to gain control of the biscuit as both Clowe and Marleau crashed the net. It had appeared it was Clowe had scored the goal, but later the tally would be credited to Marleau with Clowe and Thornton getting the assists.
The Capitals much to their credit did not quit and fought throughout the contest. Washington would get two late goals from Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz to make it a decent showing of sorts, but the Sharks had long since broken the game wide open and put it well out of reach. Despite these two late goals, Greiss’ performance was fairly stellar as he did not flinch once in the entire game. The goal at the end of the second period would never had scored has a Sharks player had simply gotten to it and cleared it away. As time expired, the Sharks would finish with a very welcome win that got the bad taste of Sunday’s match out of their minds for now.
Game Analysis – The Sharks showed some good character Monday night in bouncing back from a bad game in St Louis the night before. The Sharks came out with a sense of urgency and desperation. Despite being out shot in the game 42-35, the Sharks got quality chances and executed them. Three power play goals did in the Capitals in almost the same way the Blues did the Sharks on Sunday. The Sharks on defense closed lanes and blocked several Capitals shots throughout the game, and made Washington work for the chances they would get. Meanwhile at the Capitals defensive zone the Sharks were around it for most of the evening. If the Sharks executed a few more plays around the Capitals’ net we would have an 8-2 final or something very close to that. The Sharks also shut down Alex Ovetchkin who managed six shots on almost 27 minutes of ice time. Aside from that, Ovetchkin was neutralized as they made sure that someone else from the Capitals would have to beat them. It never came down to that.
On The Road Again- Team teal has two legs of this road trip down with seven more to go. The Sharks next travel to the southeast where they will face Tampa Bay on Thursday and Carolina on Friday. On December 21st, the Sharks handled the Lightning at the Tank 7-2. The Sharks have not played Carolina Since October 17th 2010 at the Shark Tank. In that game, the Sharks had just returned from an opener in Europe a week earlier and the Hurricanes put down a dominant 5-2 win at the Tank. The Sharks last visited the Hurricanes in Raleigh in 2009. The Sharks won that contest 5-1. This should be two interesting games as the Sharks take on two teams fighting for their seasons. Team teal will need to be ready for anything and everything a desperate opponent can throw at them. This road trip is only getting warmed up.
GO SHARKS, BEAT TAMPA & CAROLINA!!!
The King Shark
And Don’t Forget to Check The Links Below For #JABS Updates and To Get Your Sauce Hockey Official #JABS Trust Fund Shirts!
Blades of Teal: “The Final Word on San Jose Sharks Hockey”