Sharks' offense erupts in 5-3 win over Capitals

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Sharks' offense erupts in 5-3 win over Capitals

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON, DC If there was an unmistakable sign that it was Joe Pavelskis night, look no further than the first goal of the Sharks 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Monday night.

The Sharks forward was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce when he got his stick on a slap shot from Dan Boyle, who wound up behind center ice. Pavelski tipped the puck at the blue line and it skipped in on goaltender Braden Holtby, who allowed it to squeak by at 12:12 of the first period.

Boyle was trying to fire it on net to give a charging Joe Thornton a chance at the rebound, while Pavelski just wanted to prevent an icing call.

You see it bounce, and you hope when youre that far away that something stupid happens, and it did, Pavelski said.

That gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead, and Pavelski tallied another goal and two assists to tie his career high of four points before the evening was through.

Thornton finished with three assists and Patrick Marleau a pair of goals as the Sharks improved to 1-1 on their season-long nine-game road trip. They opened up a three-point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division in the process, with three games in hand.

The power play played a huge role for the Sharks, too. They were 0-for-4 with a man advantage on Sunday night's 3-0 loss in St. Louis, ending a stretch where they had been an impressive 10 for their last 22 in the eight games prior. They put that effort against the Blues quickly behind them in Washington, though, finishing 3-for-6.

We wanted to get back to making crisp tape-to-tape passes and getting our shots through, and guys in the right spots, Marleau said. We were able to do that tonight, and it paid off.

A real good sign of leadership, when it can bounce back an respond the way it did, said Todd McLellan of the power play.

After Pavelskis goal was the only marker of the first period, San Jose had a comfortable 3-0 lead in the second period thanks to power play goals from Pavelski and Marleau, and looked like it would head to the locker room with that cushion after 40 minutes. Instead, Dmitry Orlovs slap shot handcuffed Thomas Greiss, and the puck trickled over the line with less than a second to go in the period to keep the Capitals in the game.

To their credit, the Sharks werent rattled to start the third, and quickly gained a 5-1 lead. Brent Burns blast through traffic got past Holtby at 4:36, while Marleau managed to get his stick on a pass from Thornton in front of the net for another power play tally at 7:03.

That Orlov goal was a tough goal to give up, but that fourth goal was huge, Boyle said. It gave us a little more breathing room, and we fought hard tonight.

You never want to give one up at that point, McLellan said. Youve got the crowd thats in it now, youve got a coach that was probably upset going in, and in one second he changes his mind and hes now selling, hey we can do this.

The coach had a clear message for his team at the intermission.

We challenged our guys. Its up to them. They can choose to be on their heels, or they can choose to get on their toes and get after them. Im glad they chose the second.

Roman Hamrliks backhander through traffic midway through the third made it 5-2, while a low slapper by Jeff Schultz beat Greiss to the short side at 14:09, but the Capitals wouldnt come any closer in losing for the eighth time in their last 11 games (3-5-3).

Meanwhile, the Sharks improved to 16-1-0 against Washington since the start of the 1999-2000 season, including a 5-2 win at HP Pavilion on Jan. 7.

After the early gift goal, Pavelski got his second of the game at 3:26 of the second. Couture managed to push the puck towards the net through defenseman Kyle Alzner, and Pavelski skillfully flipped it over the shoulder of Holtby for his 22nd of the season.

Later, Thornton drew a high-sticking penalty on Jeff Halpern and the power play went to work again. This time, Couture deflected a wrister from the point by Pavelski, which hit Holtby in the chest before falling to the ice. Marleau was in front to deposit it at 15:11.

Greiss, making his first start since a Feb. 2 win against Dallas, was outstanding in stopping the first 29 shots fired in his direction before Orlovs stoppable shot cut into the Sharks lead.

The first two periods I played very well, he said, before adding the Orlov goal was a bad play on my part.

Greiss improved to 8-4-1 with 39 saves, and is 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

The first period had a frantic pace to it, in direct contrast to the Sharks loss in St Louis. Early in the game, Tommy Wingels, returning from a nine-game absence with a left shoulder injury, nearly put the Sharks ahead on a pair of chances in front of the net on a delayed penalty call, but Holtby stopped them both with his glove.

San Jose had a couple of defensive breakdowns in the first on which the Caps failed to capitalize. Alex Semins blast was challenged and stopped by Griess, while Orlov had a wide-open look from the circle but fired high.

The Capitals almost took the lead on a shorthanded breakaway by Brooks Laich, but Greiss got just enough of it to keep the game scoreless midway through the first.

Holtby made his first start of the season as Tomas Vokoun is suffering from an illness, and Michal Neuvirth played on Sunday in New York. Holtby played 14 games last season, and made the drive from Washingtons AHL affiliate in Hershey earlier in the day.

San Jose made it a night to forget for him, though, in what was a key win early on their marathon trek up and down the East Coast.

We wanted that first one yesterday and didnt get it, Pavelski said. It was really important for us, you see what happened with Chicago it just keeps snowballing and never gets easier on the road. You take the wins as you get them.

Odds and ends: Tommy Wingels started the game on the second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe in his return, but was later moved to the fourth line. Jim Vandermeer and Benn Ferriero were San Joses healthy scratches. Jason Demers remains out with a lower body injury. Joe Pavelskis previous four-point game came on March 15, 2011 in Dallas.

Sharks 'competed our asses off' in rewarding win over Kings

Sharks 'competed our asses off' in rewarding win over Kings

LOS ANGELES – It’s only mid-January, but the Sharks have already concluded the five-game season series with their biggest rival. That could be a good thing, as Sharks-Kings games are rarely for the faint of heart. 

“I’m glad to be done with them. If we don’t see them again, I’ll be alright with that,” Pete DeBoer quipped.

On the other hand, Wednesday’s latest and final head-to-head matchup resulted in perhaps the Sharks’ most rewarding win of the season, 3-2 at Staples Center. 

San Jose got contributions from up and down its lineup. Despite being without several key players (including Logan Couture, who missed the game due to illness), the Sharks worked hard and smart all over the ice and put some distance between themselves and Los Angeles, which is fighting to remain in playoff position.

“It was a good feeling in this [dressing] room when we came in here [after the game],” said Joe Pavelski, who scored one of the Sharks’ three goals. “Just felt like you put a complete effort out there.”

DeBoer said: “A little bit of a thin lineup, and I thought we competed our asses off. Played hard. This isn’t an easy building to win in. They play a physical game. We stood in there, and I thought played a real complete game.”

Special teams was key, as the Sharks got a power play goal from Pavelski and held the Kings to no goals and just one power play shot on four chances. Martin Jones was his typical solid self, even throwing in a highlight reel save on Dwight King in the third period to preserve the one-goal. Brent Burns continued to dominate, getting yet another goal in the first period (his 19th), and Joe Thornton notched a pair of assists.

And, the fourth line got in on the action, too. Micheal Haley was one of the team’s best forwards of the evening, beautifully setting up Tommy Wingels on a two-on-one, who gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish with less than five minutes to go in the first period.

“Just tried to make an early pass so [Wingels] had enough time to have a good look, and he made a great shot,” Haley said.

DeBoer said: “Big goal from those guys.”

Defensively, Los Angeles was held to just 24 shots, as the Sharks kept the Kings’ stars at bay. That includes Jeff Carter, who was the best player on the ice in the most recent meeting on Jan. 3, and has been far and away Los Angeles’ most valuable player this season.

“He’s a world class player and he’s having a world class season,” DeBoer said of Carter. “He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice.”

The Sharks played a committed and detailed game in their own end, though, not giving Carter or anyone else much room to operate in their offensive zone. Los Angeles’ scoring chances were few and far between.

Last week, the Sharks failed to put some distance between themselves and another division rival nipping on their heels, the Flames. They didn’t want that to happen again with the Kings, who could have pulled to within four points of San Jose with a regulation win.

Instead, the Kings are now eight points back of San Jose after losing three of the five meetings. And they don’t have any more of those four-point games left on the schedule.

“You always want to win a season series,” Pavelski said. “It was just important because I think we all know it was pretty tight in the standings. It goes [to] four or eight [points], you know?”

Haley said: “We want to make that distance farther and farther. They’re always in the back of our head.”

Instant Replay: Complete effort helps Sharks take down rival Kings

Instant Replay: Complete effort helps Sharks take down rival Kings

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES – Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski scored goals, and a brilliant performance by the penalty killers keyed a Sharks win over the Kings on Wednesday at Staples Center, 3-2.

The Sharks finished the season 3-1-1 against the Kings, and have won four of their last six overall (4-2-0). Los Angeles concluded a seven-game homestand with a 3-4-0 mark, dropping eight points behind San Jose in the Pacific Division.

After trading early scores, San Jose scored twice to jump out to a 3-1 lead.

Wingels gave the Sharks their second lead of the night at 15:42 of the first period, burying a Micheal Haley pass on a two-on-one rush.

Then, on a second period power play, Joel Ward redirected a Joe Thornton shot wide, but Pavelski grabbed it off of the end boards and bounced it in off of Peter Budaj at the 10-minute mark.

Los Angeles got one back at 15:19. Kyle Clifford stepped out of the penalty box making it a three-on-two, and after Martin Jones stopped Clifford try from the slot, the puck squirted to Marian Gaborik who easily directed it into the open net.

The Kings’ nearly tied it with about 14:20 to go, but Jones made a brilliant stop on Dwight King’s rebound try, lunging at the shot with his right pad.

Los Angeles failed on four power play chances, getting just one shot in nearly eight minutes.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture for the first time this season. According to coach Pete DeBoer, Couture remained in San Jose due to an illness. Patrick Marleau centered the second line, while Melker Karlsson took Marleau’s place on the Thornton-Pavelski line.

The teams traded first period goals. Burns’ wrister from high in the zone deflected off of Anze Kopitar’s stick and high over Budaj at 3:31, but Los Angeles responded on Tanner Pearson’s redirection of Derek Forbort’s floater at 5:46.

According to Elias, Burns is the first defenseman to have at least 19 goals through the first 45 games of the season since Paul Coffey had 22 in 1985-86.

Thornton notched two assists, moving into 24th all-time on the NHL’s scoring list with 1,370 points, passing Johnny Bucyk.

Special teams

In a game that featured an abundance of questionable calls, the Sharks went 1-for-4 while remaining perfect on the PK. San Jose has one power play goal in three of its last four games (3-for-13).

The Kings had one power play goal in each of the first four head-to-head meetings before Wednesday.

In goal

Jones improved to 6-2-2 against his former team, making 22 stops. He was starting for the eighth time in the last nine.

Budaj allowed three goals on 27 shots. He continues to get the bulk of the work with Jonathan Quick still out from a groin injury suffered on opening night in San Jose.

Lineup

In Couture’s place, Ryan Carpenter played for the first time since Nov. 30, when he scored his first NHL goal at Staples Center. Barclay Goodrow and Tim Heed, recalled on Tuesday, were scratched.

Kopitar played for the Kings after missing Monday’s game with an illness.

Up next

The Sharks will battle the Lightning at home in the second of two meetings on Thursday. On Nov. 12, San Jose beat Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena, 3-1. In the second of back-to-backs, the Sharks are 4-3-0 this season.