Sharks can't score on late power play, lose in shootout to Capitals
A power play goal late in regulation could have clinched a playoff spot for the Sharks but they'll have to put those plans on hold after a shootout loss to Washington.
In what's become something of a recurring theme when the Sharks lose this season, the power play let the team down. An Alex Ovechkin high-sticking minor drawn by Marc-Edouard Vlasic 17:42 into the 3rd period gave San Jose a golden opportunity to break a 2-2 deadlock and put the Washington Capitals away for good. Instead, the team's top unit couldn't create more than a single scoring chance and, to make matters worse, played the full two minutes of the man-advantage meaning the likes of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau were fatigued during the subsequent overtime period.
San Jose opened the scoring...into their own net. After a pad save by Niemi on an Eric Fehr one-timer from the top of the right circle a little over eleven minutes into the first, Justin Braun's clearing attempt struck Matt Nieto in the leg before bouncing into an open net to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
Yeah, let's just pretend that never happened. Patrick Marleau would tie the game with just under six seconds remaining in the first, depositing a Logan Couture rebound past Braden Holtby to get to 30 goals for the seventh time in his past nine seasons. After a scoreless middle frame, James Sheppard gave the Sharks their only lead of the hockey game five minutes into the third, blocking a Jason Chimera shot in the defensive zone before breaking away and beating Braden Holtby five hole with a perfectly-placed backhander. Unfortunately, the Sharks remained in the giving mood defensively as a shot from the high slot by Washington's Chris Brown deflected off Nieto, then Dan Boyle, to tie the game for the Capitals.
The end result is a 3-2 shootout loss to the Caps in which the Sharks get to the 100-point plateau on the season but blow a chance to move a full four points ahead of the Ducks and clinch a playoff berth, although they'll have ample opportunity to do both on their upcoming road trip through Alberta. San Jose played well enough to win, outshooting Washington 36-26 and neutralizing the league's top power play whenever it took the ice, but a rare off night for the Thornton line and a lack of scoring on their own man-advantage paved the way for a disappointing skills competition defeat.
[Fancy Stats] - [Capitals Reaction]
[Event Summary] - [PBP Log] - [TOI Log] - [Faceoff Report]
- Players who have had seven or more 30+ goal seasons since the 2005 lockout: Marleau, Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla. End of list. That's pretty exclusive company for Marleau, and he's been a far more valuable two-way player than any of those guys over that stretch.
- Unexpectedly strong game for the Sheppard line, who proved to be the Sharks' only real answer to a Jason Chimera/Eric Fehr/Joel Ward combination for Washington that was wreaking havoc on the forecheck and regularly hemming Thornton and Burns in their own zone. If the third line could play like this more often it would make sense to keep them together going forward, but I can't really see them repeating this.
- In a shocking upset, it was Chris Brown and not Evgeny Kuznetsov who scored his first-ever NHL goal tonight against the Sharks. Although Kuznetsov did make up for it without a shootout tally.
- They were the reason the Sharks beat the Ducks on Thursday, but this was an uncharacteristically poor game for the top line. Joe Pavelski in particular appeared to have one of his weaker games in recent memory, which makes it somewhat puzzling that he ended up leading the team with 24:08 of ice time, his second-highest total of the season.
- While that late power play obviously came up short, I thought the Sharks looked much sharper on their earlier opportunities with the man-advantage, generating a handful of grade-A chances for Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Marty Havlat. Small sample size to be sure but San Jose looked much better on its six minutes of power play time than Washington did in its.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Braden Holtby
2nd Star: Eric Fehr
3rd Star: James Sheppard