The Sharks (36-22-9, 2nd Pacific) hope to continue their strong play at home this afternoon as they host the Washington Capitals (37-23-7, 2nd Metropolitan). With a 3-1-0 record through four games in a six game home stand, the Sharks have outscored opponents 16-7 and, with Washington's recent history of ineptitude in California, things are looking up.
Martin Jones' strong performance in a 2-0 shut out of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday evening was the most recent entry in that ledger, in a game that also saw the Sharks post their first power play goal by way of a red hot Mikkel Boedker (six goals and ten points in ten games) in a record setting (in the bad way) 28 consecutive chances. Jake Allen put on a show, stopping 35 of 36 shots in the loss, but the Sharks' persistence won out. The Sharks' playoff position is still as tenuous as it's likely to be for the rest of the season, sitting one point ahead of the Ducks and two ahead of the Kings.
The Capitals, on the other hand, have continued a trend of disappointment in the golden state, dropping a 4-0 contest to the Ducks in Anaheim on Tuesday and a 3-1 loss to the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday. Washington has lost seven straight in California (0-6-1) and eight straight in LA (0-6-2) and that may have been in the back of their minds as they posted five shots on goal throughout the third period that night.
The Caps have been inconsistent all year after two straight Presidents' Trophy winning seasons from 2015-17: after a worrying 11-10-1 record in their first 22 they caught fire, going 16-3-2 in their next 21. Since then, however, they're 10-10-4, with plenty of ups and downs to show for it. Their last win, a 5-2 domination of the Toronto Maple Leafs outdoors in Maryland on Saturday night (show of hands, how many of us knew about that outdoor game before it was actively happening? NHL marketing wins another one), was followed by the aforementioned two regulation losses. Another tonight would mark the Caps' first three game regulation losing streak of the season.
Still, Washington is in a comfortable spot in the standings in the very competitive Metropolitan division, sitting one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first and tied the Philadelphia Flyers for second. Among all this, Alex Ovechkin is defying aging curves everywhere and leading the league in goals with 40 (tied with Winnipeg's Patrik Laine) at 32 years old. The league's second best number 8 has been sitting at 598 career goals since Saturday, after being held off the board entirely in Southern California, and will be the 20th player in NHL history to score 600 sooner rather than later. Not tonight, though, please.
In an unfortunate turn of events for the Sharks, Washington will likely start back up Phillip Grubauer for his second straight, after starter Braden Holtby was pulled in three of his last six. Caps head coach Barry Trotz addressed Holtby's struggles Tuesday night, saying the former Vezina trophy winner as the league's best goaltender needed time to "reset."
Let's not make history here, boys, and give the Caps some more of the California hospitality to which they've become accustomed.
Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow -- Eric Fehr -- Marcus Sorensen
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Tim Heed, Paul Martin, Jannik Hansen, Melker Karlsson
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee), Joel Ward (shoulder)
Karlsson practiced for 2nd straight day yesterday, but will sit tonight as a healthy scratch after missing Thursday's contest against St. Louis.
Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly -- Nicklas Backstrom-- Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson -- Travis Boyd -- Jay Beagle
Michal Kempny -- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik -- Jakub Jerabek
Scratched: Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Alex Chiasson, Devante Smith-Pelly
Wilson had a maintenance day yesterday after being hit in the face with a puck in LA, but he'll probably be in the lineup today.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, NBCSWA
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App