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Sharks 4, Capitals 1: Optimus Reim blanks Ovi

Timo Meier is coming for the greatest goal-scorer of all-time crown. Alex who?

Jan 26, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche (53) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal as Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (6) looks on during the second period at Capital One Arena. It is his first career NHL goal. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s any evidence that goaltending is an absolute chaos gremlin in the sport of hockey, it might be the 2021-22 San Jose Sharks. By all means, every flaw in their game that has been present for the last few months — a young roster prone to mistakes, paired with a mismatched and declining defensive corps — was on display tonight against the Washington Capitals, but James Reimer’s near-perfect game kept the team from facing the consequences of their own actions.

To their credit, the Sharks weren’t totally awful tonight, and defender Nicolas Meloche had a stand-out performance after netting his first NHL goal. Noah Gregor finally got off the schneid, opening scoring. My rookie of the year, Jonathan Dahlen, scored an absolute beauty of a goal to restore the team’s confidence after Washington broke the shutout.

The only consistency from the Sharks is getting a mixed bag at the end of every game: they did a handful of things extremely well, most things just okay and some things extremely poorly. The offense excelled tonight, but turnovers were plentiful and Washington was quick to San Jose’s mistakes. I don’t even want to talk about the fight at the end of the game because it truly accomplished nothing.

Starting the road trip with a 4-1 win should be the energy the Sharks take forward, but there is still plenty of room to improve with the opponents they’re facing down this week.

Comment of the Game

I know these East Coast games are harder to watch live, but I love all of y’all who show up to hang out.

The comment of the game was revisiting the idea that the Capitals are “Sharks East”:

Admittedly, I thought Washington’s third jerseys tonight were so sexy, but is that not the curse of the third jersey, to be too sexy to play good hockey in? I’m pretty sure that’s how they work.


Happy Weatherby Wednesday! Let’s get to it.

First Period

19:25: Not a single person on the opening shift had their legs under them. I hope it’s not one of those games.

18:18: Alright, Andrew Cogliano with a good shift. A couple of chances on Ilya Samsonov there.

16:30: The Capitals are such a physically large team. They’ve got a lot of big dudes.

15:46: Washington’s broadcast is talking about Ulf Dahlen, who played 217 games for them. Love that.

15:04: When the third line has a good match-up, they’ve got a damn good match-up. Great shift.

13:24: Now the broadcast is talking about Timo Meier’s 5-goal game and how Alex Ovechkin has never done that. Is Timo the greatest goal-scorer of all-time, actually?

12:19: FINALLY NOAH GREGOR! Dude has been so overdue for a goal. Brent Burns with a great pass over Samsonov’s leg to Gregor, who taps it in behind the goaltender. Beautiful play. 1-0, Sharks.

10:29: Meier is staying with the puck in front of the net, this top line is putting in a hell of a shift and are making chances for themselves.

8:42: Something about Nick Bonino shutting down Tom Wilson is very funny to me. I’m sure he got plenty of experience doing so with the Penguins.

7:48: Here comes Conor Sheary, Shark killer, picking up an unfortunate and dumb turnover from Jeffrey Viel.

7:05: Yeah, the turnovers are going to be brutal tonight. Ovechkin isn’t messing around.

7:03: Jesus, Ovechkin off the face-off, James Reimer with a heads up save.

6:36: Mario Ferraro from the top of the left circle, with traffic in front of the net, I thought that was going in. Nobody picks up the rebound.

5:15: Daniel Sprong with a couple of chances on Reimer. Caps have been held to just a handful of shots this period, but that’s because the Sharks’ offense has been fairly good at possession and building zone time. Washington is quick to a turnover and their chances are getting through to Reimer.

3:36: Another example here. Washington needed very little time to set up and the puck is Reimer’s responsibility way too quickly. He made the save, but one of those is going to get through.

3:08: Jonathan Dahlen ROBBED!!!!!

2:51: Perhaps Nicolas Meloche is not the best defenseman to have out against Ovechkin.

1:55: Shots are 15-8 in favor of the Sharks, but the Capitals are putting a load of shots on Reimer right now.

0:50: I cannot believe the Capitals call the last minute of play the McNugget Minute. Hate it.

END FIRST: Sharks 1, Capitals 0

Second Period

19:31: Garnet Hathaway drives the net and loses an edge, sliding straight into it. He wanted a hooking call on Burns, but he wasn’t there.

18:16: Reimer has to fall onto the puck to get a stoppage in play, as Backstrom is on him and fighting for the puck.

17:59: Hathaway and Nic Dowd with a 2-on-1 that gets broken up.

17:00: Logan Couture with a decent chance, but there wasn’t a Sharks player anywhere near the rebound.

16:33: Caps enter the zone with a 4-on-2 and Sharks are lucky nothing breaks against them.

16:02: Okay, okay, I see you Meloche. He comes up through the slot and beats Samsonov for his first NHL goal. Sharks are up 2-0.

15:11: Well, this is where momentum could shift. Trevor van Riemsdyk gets hit in the lip with a high stick and Washington goes to the power play.

13:11: Penalty killed, really great work by the Sharks. Marc-Edouard Vlasic with a couple miscues, but it’s not like there are a lot of options at this point.

11:05: Caps broadcasters joking that Meloche is now playing with the confidence of Cale Makar, that’s cute.

8:33: Stream cut out for a second there, but looks like the top line is going off? Good for them.

7:09: Meloche with a big blocked shot, then a delayed call on the Sharks.

7:01: Dahlen called for slashing on Michal Kempny.

6:36: Evgeny Kuznetsov gets tripped, Sharks get away with no call there.

5:01: Penalty expires and play goes the other way.

4:28: Dmitry Orlov takes a holding penalty. Boy howdy, am I not looking forward to a Sharks turnoverpower play against Washington’s penalty killers.

4:18: Alexander Barabanov opens the power play with a soft shot to the chest of Samsonov.

3:20: There it is, a shorthanded chance for John Carlson, as well as a rebound opportunity. What a joke.

2:28: Penalty over, very uninspiring power play from San Jose.

1:40: Ovechkin just slammed Burns into the boards, that was two big bodies coming together. Woof.

Pretty back and forth to wind down the period.

END SECOND: Sharks 2, Capitals 0

Third Period

19:46: Damn, that happened FAST. Second shift, a draw on the left circle, Sprong beats Reimer short side. The puck clipped Reimer’s stick. Sharks’ lead cut down, 2-1.

19:04: Wilson with a shot the hits the post wide. Sharks have got to get out of the defensive zone, it was their only strength in the first two periods.

18:00: San Jose gets into the offensive zone with a mix of the fourth line and top line making a change and the Caps clear it back out easily.

17:11: Washington keeps hitting the outside post this period.

16:28: A great set-up by Washington nearly leaves Reimer scrambling, but the final pass to Lars Eller gets whiffed on in front of the open net.

15:48: Ovechkin in his office rips a shot that hits Kempny on the way to Reimer. Ouch.

14:51: Meloche rips on on net and you know what, I’m not made about his game tonight.

14:22: Kuznetsov got the puck and just sprint through the neutral zone with it. Reimer and pure luck are keeping the Sharks from suffering the consequences of these constant turnovers.

11:11: A little bit of back and forth action now, but Sharks need a change and Washington doesn’t get anything substantial going.

9:26: Couture steps onto the ice and fires a shot onto Samsonov.

8:36: Barabanov has been alright tonight, but that was a great shift with Gregor and Tomas Hertl. I don’t love this line quiet like I like the current top line, or the former second line, but again, it’s not like the Sharks are flush with options right now.

6:41: Ferraro blocked a shot from Ovechkin with his leg. Couture tried to fling it out and it bounced off Burns and up and over the glass. Referees discussing if it should be delay of game.

Looks like the Sharks are going to the penalty kill. Trash call.

6:13: It’s feeling like a “lose in overtime” game, folks.

6:03: Matt Nieto with a shorthanded breakaway, two Capitals skaters chasing, Samsonov makes the save.

4:41: Power play expires. Huge kill for the Sharks.

4:33: Oh shit, Samsonov was crushed by Ovechkin on the backcheck as Timo Meier took a shot up close. The net came off and Samsonov looked pretty rattled.

4:10: Hertl accidentally separates Samsonov from his stick, but the Sharks can’t hold possession long enough to take advantage.

3:09: Jonathan Dahlen, you beautiful bastard. What patience. He held onto the puck for so long on a 1-on-1, thought he was waiting to pass it and instead shoots it clean over Samsonov’s shoulder. That’s the goal of the game. 3-1, Sharks.

2:28: Caps pull their goaltender.

1:00: Washington calls a timeout. Ovechkin has been out there a long time and they definitely look gassed.

0:35.7: Man, Reimer with a save on Ovechkin that is just so calm and smooth.

0:20.5: Cogliano sinks an empty netter. 4-1, Sharks. That’s going to be all she wrote.

WAIT NO, Jonah Gadjovich and Hathaway are going at it, after the Sharks started to celebrate. This is going on forever. Hathaway tried so hard to get Gadjovich’s helmet off an couldn’t.

Looks like it started on the final face-off, but Gadjovich might get an instigator call for going back after Hathaway at the buzzer.

FINAL SCORE: Sharks 4, Capitals 1


The San Jose Sharks are back on the East Coast, so prepare for a week of afternoon games. First up are the Washington Capitals, who have been taking a lot of games into overtime, including four so far this month. The Sharks are pretty comfortable in close games and especially in that extra frame, but the loss of Erik Karlsson is a pretty big blow to contend with — not just tonight, but over the next six weeks, at least.

Read about the questions and concerns ahead of today’s game in our game preview here.

Here’s everything you need to know to tune in:

Lines

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Alexander Barabanov — Tomas Hertl — Timo Meier
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Noah Gregor
Matt Nieto — Nick Bonino — Andrew Cogliano
Jonah Gadjovich — Jasper Weatherby — Jeffrey Viel

Mario Ferraro — Brent Burns
Jaycob Megna — Nicolas Meloche
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Radim Simek

James Reimer
Zach Sawchenko

Expected Scratches: Lane Pederson, Ryan Merkley, Adam Raska

Injured Reserve: Erik Karlsson (upper body), Jacob Middleton (upper body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Adin Hill (upper body)

COVID-19 Protocol: Rudolfs Balcers

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Conor Sheary — Nicklas Backstrom — Daniel Sprong
Aliaksei Protas — Lars Eller — Garnet Hathaway
Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Brett Leason

Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Justin Schultz
Michal Kempny — Trevor van Riemsdyk

Ilya Samsonov
Vitek Vanecek

Expected Scratches: Connor McMichael, Dennis Cholowski, Matt Irwin

Injured Reserve: T.J. Oshie (upper body), Nick Jensen (upper body), Anthony Mantha (shoulder)

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast regionally on NBCSCA and NBCSWA. Streaming is available with a subscription to ESPN+ (blackout restrictions do apply). The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.