After two even periods to start the game, a strong third carried the Sharks to victory over the NHL-leading Capitals. Three third period goals earned the Sharks two points to pull within one of the Ducks (with one more game played) and three of the Kings (who lost to the Devils in overtime) in the Pacific.
After struggling to overcome the Devils' stifling style of play two nights ago, the Sharks put pressure on the Capitals early and kept it on. Halfway through the first Joe Thornton beat Washington backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to give San Jose a 1–0 lead. Grubauer, filling in for Vezina favorite Braden Holtby, couldn't hold onto a shot by Brenden Dillon, and Thornton was right in front of the net to clean up the rebound.
A Nick Spaling high sticking penalty gave the Capitals their first power play opportunity near the end of the first, then a delay of game penalty to Brent Burns made it a 5-on-3 early in the second. The league's leading power play didn't take long to pick up the equalizer, as T.J. Oshie beat Martin Jones to tie the game at one.
The Sharks killed the remaining penalty time to Burns, then Patrick Marleau showed off his speed shorthanded with Joe Thornton in the box for San Jose's third consecutive penalty. A Capitals giveaway set Marleau off on a 2-on-0 rush with former Capital Joel Ward. Marleau passed the puck to Ward, who passed it back to Marleau for the tap-in goal.
Longtime Sharks nemesis Justin Williams tied things up again with his 20th goal halfway through the second. Thornton turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Evgeny Kuznetsov sent it straight to Williams, who was camped out all alone in front of Jones.
Jones kept it tied with big saves on a near-2-on-0 and a breakaway, then followed them up by stopping a penalty shot in the final minute of the second. With the Sharks on their second power play of the game, Burns slashed Jay Beagle on a shorthanded breakaway, but Jones bailed him out with a stick save on the penalty shot.
The Sharks came out flying in the third, starting the period with a minute and a half left on the power play. After Burns kept the puck in the offensive zone, Thornton sent it to Joe Pavelski, who backhanded it between Grubauer's pad and the goal post to put the Sharks up 3–2.
Two minutes later Dillon made it 4–2 with a shot from the blue line that Grubauer never saw as it sailed over his shoulder and into the net.
With the Sharks dominating play, several big saves by Grubauer and a missed chance at an empty net by Melker Karlsson kept the lead at two goals until Burns added another with Grubauer on the bench to ice the game in the final minute. After playing a solid game through two periods, the Sharks' dominant effort in the third against the best team in the NHL easily makes this their best win of the season.
Sharks goals (assists): Joe Thornton (Brenden Dillon, Tomas Hertl), Patrick Marleau (Joel Ward), Joe Pavelski (Joe Thornton, Brent Burns), Brenden Dillon (Chris Tierney, Roman Polak), Brent Burns (Joe Pavelski, Nick Spaling)
Fear the Fin's Three Stars
1) Joe Pavelski
2) Joe Thornton
3) Martin Jones