The San Jose Sharks notched arguably their most important win of the season on Thursday night, beating the Anaheim Ducks and overtaking them for the Pacific Division lead. They are on an absolute tear, winning seven of eight and peaking at the right time.
San Jose will look to keep the good times rolling as it will battle the Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL’s top goal scorer, and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at SAP Center.
The Capitals’ offense overall may be average, but their power play, starring Ovechkin, is lethal, second in the NHL at 23 percent. By contrast, the Sharks’ power play has struggled mightily as of late, and they sit in the bottom third of the league on the man advantage. Look for special teams to play a role tonight.
Both teams have something to play for in this game, with the Sharks looking to maintain their division lead, while the Capitals are fighting for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. With 77 points, they stand a point behind the Blue Jackets for the second and final wild card position in the East. The Sharks could also possibly clinch a playoff spot with a win, but it involves some complicated scenarios that aren’t worth discussing since a playoff spot is a virtual lock at this point for Team Teal.
Tale of the Tape
- Goals for per game: 2.94 (7th)
- Goals against per game: 2.32 (4th)
- Shots per game: 34.9 (1st)
- Shots against per game: 27.8 (5th)
- Penalty minutes: 652 (5th)
- Power play percentage: 16.1% (22nd)
- Penalty kill percentage: 84.5% (7th)
- Goals for per game: 2.77 (14th)
- Goals against per game: 2.86 (22nd)
- Shots per game: 29.9 (17th)
- Shots against per game: 33.5 (27th)
- Penalty minutes: 880 (23rd)
- Power play percentage: 23.9% (2nd)
- Penalty kill percentage: 81.4% (18th)
Sharks: Joe Thornton (11 G, 58 A), Joe Pavelski (34 G, 33 A), Patrick Marleau (29 G, 32 A)
Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin (46 G, 23 A), Nicklas Backstrom (13 G, 56 A), Joel Ward (22 G, 20 A)
Sharks: : Tomas Hertl (knee) is on IR. Raffi Torres (soreness) did not play Thursday. Brad Stuart (upper body) has been out since the Olympic break but may play on Saturday.
Capitals: Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), Brooks Laich (groin) and Aaron Volpatti (upper body) are out for the Capitals.
SAN JOSE (46-18-7)
Opening Face-off: 7:30 PM PST
Location: SAP Center, San Jose, CA