Well, the Sharks certainly made a statement in their game against the Washington Capitals. It wasn’t a very positive one. They wasted a great start, allowing three goals in 3:01 and a total of five goals on Martin Jones in 40 minutes. The day after being named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, Jones posted a .783 save percentage, his worst of the season. Evander Kane took an unnecessary game misconduct a minute after his goal, putting the Sharks on the penalty kill for the final five minutes of play.
Melker Karlsson put the Sharks on the board early, which should be the objective for any hockey game but was especially key against a hot, deep team like the Capitals. With Step 1 of a “win hockey games” list checked off, the Sharks apparently decided to call it a night.
The Capitals started to get chances with 15 minutes left, and they finally tied the game when Garnet Hathaway tipped a deep shot from John Carlson. Less than a minute later, the Capitals took the lead and they never looked back. Both Garnet Hathaway and Jakub Vrana finished the game with two goals, and Carlson recorded two assists and a goal of his own.
The Sharks failed to score in the second period, and barely managed to get threatening shots at all. They registered seven shots on net in the middle frame. Neither team shot much—the Capitals’ 13 first-period shots were the single period high, and neither team reached 30.
The Sharks out-shot the Capitals in the final period, 8-5, and Evander Kane even managed to get one past Braden Holtby. Kane swiftly negated this positive contribution by injuring Radko Gudas with a high hit near the boards.
The Sharks have a day to fix their many, many mistakes before they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Thursday.
17:27: There’s the lower-lines contributions the Sharks will need. Melker Karlsson gets a step on Michal Kempny and powers his way to a far-side goal.
14:56: The Capitals’ own depth players almost equalize when Mario Ferraro slightly mishandles the puck in the left circle and Richard Panik takes his shot. It hit the crossbar and bounced away.
10:31: Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd rush into the Sharks’ zone against Brenden Dillon. Dowd gets a shot off with Melker Karlsson trying to catch up, but Martin Jones kicks out to send the puck away.
9:17: The Capitals’ second line dumps the puck into the Sharks’ zone, but it’s quickly collected by the defense to eliminate the threat.
8:29: The Caps’ top line gets a try at offense, thwarted by Barclay Goodrow’s poke-check on Alex Ovechkin.
6:29: John Carlson’s shot makes it through Martin Jones. There’s immediate discussion as to whether Hathaway committed goaltender interference. After a quick referee conversation, it’s a good goal. Surprised they didn’t go to video to look at the height of Hathaway’s stick when he tipped it.
5:36: The Capitals take the lead. Jakub Vrana gets his own rebound in an empty crease.
3:28: Carlson gets a shot past Jones again. This one wasn’t tipped, it’s his ninth goal of the season. Oh, and he assisted both the other goals.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Capitals 3
That started really well for the Sharks, with an even-strength goal from hard work by the lower lines. Then John Carlson remembered he wants a Norris Trophy. He’s up to 40 points after assisting on two of the goals and scoring the third himself. I was going to write how the Sharks can’t sit too comfortably in the locker room this intermission, but that’s when I thought they’d be ahead now. I’m pretty sure they’re not sitting comfortable. The Capitals made my point for me.
17:29: Garnet Hathaway scores again. Similar to Vrana’s goal, he had a second chance on his own rebound.
13:37: Aggressive hugging occurs after the whistle for a tripping call against the Sharks. Dylan Gambrell will sit for two for tripping Radko Gudas.
11:37: Penalty killed.
5:50: The Sharks get a shot on Braden Holtby, from pretty far out along the boards. Most of their shots have been coming from the outside ever since the Melker Karlsson goal.
3:45: The Capitals’ forecheck gets to work low and Jakub Vrana scores from the slot before his defender can step up to him.
2:52: The Sharks are huddling at the home-plate area as they attempt to fend off the Capitals’ forecheck. Not much movement or challenge.
END SECOND: Sharks 1, Capitals 5
It just got worse for the Sharks that period. They couldn’t get many shots from high-danger areas, and the ones they did take were easy for Braden Holtby to see. On the other end of the ice, the Capitals’ forecheck was effective. The Caps have two men on hat trick-watch.
20:00: Aaron Dell is in the Sharks’ net for the final 20 minutes.
18:07: Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc get a rush and passing play off, but Braden Holtby cuts down on Labanc’s angle.
15:06: Brenden Dillon seems to be smarting after taking a bit of a trip from Eller and bumping into the boards.
7:59: Dylan Gambrell carries in against three Capitals and tries to get a shot on net, but it goes wide. Also, where was his support?
6:53: Evander Kane shoots from the outside of the left circle and gets the Sharks on the board for the first time since the start of the first period. The Capitals defense had gotten tangled among themselves trying to contain a short rebound.
5:01: Evander Kane cross-checks/elbows/stick-butts Radko Gudas in the head, dislodging his helmet and causing him to hit the boards headfirst. It’s a major penalty, pending review. The referees confirmed the decision and added a game misconduct.
5:00: The Sharks’ really good penalty kill has five minutes of work to do.
2:38: The Karlssons try something on the penalty kill, but Melker whiffs.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 2, Capitals 5
Aaron Dell didn’t give up any goals, which is good. Evander Kane took an unnecessary penalty, which is stupid.
After a brief trip to the desert and then a two-day break, the San Jose Sharks are hosting the Washington Capitals tonight. The Capitals are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and have won their last three in a row. They’re 11-2-1 in away games so far, counting their most recent game, a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings which included a hat trick from captain Alex Ovechkin.
The host Sharks have won two in a row and are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. The Sharks have a winning 9-6-0 record at home and are in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. With a win tonight, they’ll tie the Dallas Stars with 33 points, and the Sharks have the edge in wins.
So, this game is big for the Sharks: they have the chance to prove they can overcome a good team and to advance in the standings. Like Erika said in the preview, the Sharks will need contributions from throughout the lineup and at all stages to get this done.
The Capitals have been without winger Carl Hagelin since early November, but they’ve confirmed he’ll be returning tonight. Prior to his injury, Hagelin played around 14 minutes a night and was part of the Caps’ penalty kill. Todd Reirden may choose to ease him back in tonight, but he’s still a huge boost for the Capitals, who are still missing top-line center Nicklas Backstrom to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Expected Scratches: Lukas Radil
Injured Reserve: Dalton Prout (upper body), Antti Soumela (upper-body)
Capitals (via Samantha Pell):
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Lars Eller — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Travis Boyd — Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Jonas Seigenthaler — Radko Gudas
Injured Reserve: Nicklas Backstrom (upper body)
Where to Watch
The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Pacific/10:30 p.m. Eastern in the SAP Center. NBC Sports California has the home feed, while NBC Sports Washington is the away broadcast. Radio listeners can tune in to 98.5 KFOX or use the Sharks app.