The Sharks kicked off their last trip east
this season in a tough 4-game romp with a stop in the nation's capital to take
on the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. San Jose played a nice road
game, scoring in all three periods to knock off the Capitals 4-1 at Capital One
The 2 points the Sharks earned in the win may be the only ones
they see, as the trip will match them up against the East leading Panthers,
Hurricanes and Lightning. It was imperative for San Jose to grab the points
that were reachable.
The net net is that the Sharks played a quality
opponent in Washington, and they executed in several facets of the game. James
Reimer made 32 saves, many of the quality variety, to help lead San Jose.
Noah Gregor snapped a 20-game goalless streak with his 1st tally since
November 30th in New Jersey. The Sharks forward was lurking on the left side
when Brent Burns fished a puck out of a scrum near the right dot before sending
a pass to Gregor through the slot. From there it was simply receiving and
throwing the puck at a wide open net. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov was forced to
cover the right side of the net to defend Burns, exposing the weak side.
The Capitals turned up the heat in the last 9 minutes of the period.
The Caps generated 5 of their 8 shots in that span, and added a pair of misses.
San Jose also blocked 7 shots in that frame. They finished the period with 9
The Sharks doubled their lead at 3:58 of the 2nd period when
rookie defenseman Nicholas Meloche bagged his first career NHL goal. Matt Nieto
carried the puck up the left side and dropped it to the spot between the
circles where the trailing defenseman gathered it and whipped a 40-foot shot
that beat Samsonov.
Tomas Hertl took the game's first penalty at 4:49
when he clipped Trevor van Reimsdyk with a high stick. The Sharks killed the
penalty but not before Conor Sheary just missed on a tap in from the doorstep
after Alexander Ovechkin set him up with a long pass from the left point.
Meloche saved the Sharks bacon with 7 minutes left in the period when
he blocked what appeared to be a slam dunk for the Capitals. Jonathan Dahlen
was called for slashing Michal Kempny on the play to put the Sharks in a
precarious situation, but once again the penalty kill came through.
Dmitry Orlov was sent off for hauling down Logan Couture and the Sharks power
play responded by surrendering a pair of short-handed scoring chances.
Daniel Sprong halved the Sharks lead with a goal just 14 seconds into the 3rd
period. The Capitals had forced a draw in the Sharks zone, and Sprong pounced
on the puck near the inside of the left circle and lifted a shot past James
Reimer for his 7th of the season.
In a pivotal moment in the game,
Sharks captain Logan Couture was whisteld for delay of game after he lifted a
puck over the glass from his knees. The Sharks actually had a chance to extend
their lead when Matt Nieto found himself on a breakaway chance, but his shot
buried in Samsonov's midsection.
Jonathan Dahlen provided the Sharks with some
breathing room at 16:51, when he carried the puck into the Washington zone on
the right side before cutting back to the slot and snapping a shot past
Samsonov for his 9th goal of the season. The tally snapped a 14-game drought.
Peter Laviolette pulled Samsonov with less than 2 minutes to play, and
the Sharks used the empty net to ice the game with an Andrew Cogliano goal.
Jonah Gadjovich and Garnet Hathaway dropped the gloves as the final
horn, dancing for a spirited minute. Game Notes:
was expected that Rudolfs Balcers would be coming off the NHL's COVID protocol
list for the game, but he was not activated by San Jose.
Adin Hill was an injury scratch, as he deals with a lower body issue. Zach
Sawchenko served as James Reimer's backup.
* Erik Karlsson averages 23
minutes a game, so more of the load has been shuffled over to Brent Burns.
Burns skated 27:22 on Wednesday night.
* Jake Middleton is close to
returning. The defenseman has missed the last 9 games as he recovers from a
concussion that he suffered against the Detroit Red Wings on January 4th.
* Alexander Barabanov was more than noticeable on the ice. The young
Russian recorded an assist on Noah Gregor's goal, was a +1 and had a pair of
shots. He was a force on the ice, especially in back-checking situations.