In the Crease: Desperate Caps visit Sharks

In the Crease: Desperate Caps visit Sharks
March 22, 2014, 9:45 am
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The Capitals have not won in San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993, going 0-11-1 over that span. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Capitals coverage gets underway on Comcast SportsNet California at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live

Where they stand
Sharks: 46-18-7, 99 points, 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference
Capitals: 33-27-11, 77 points, 5th Metropolitan Division, 10th Eastern Conference

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Joe Thornton and Brent Burns scored third period goals to erase a 2-1 deficit and give San Jose its 11th win in the last 14 games (11-2-1). San Jose will visit Calgary and Edmonton on Monday-Tuesday next week, and will then play five of its final eight regular season games at home, where it is 26-5-4.

[RELATED: Sharks can clinch playoff spot against Capitals]

Capitals: Washington is in danger of missing the playoffs, sitting one point behind Columbus for the final wild card spot, but is 3-0-1 in its last four games. The Capitals are wrapping up a tour of California, after beating Anaheim on Tuesday, 3-2, and losing in a shootout to the Kings on Thursday, 2-1. To say Washington’s power play is hot is an understatement – it is 14-for-38 in the last 12 games (36.8 percent).

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Joe Thornton. His three-point effort a bit overshadowed by Brent Burns’ game on Thursday, the Sharks captain is once again tied with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in assists with 58. He set up Patrick Marleau’s first period power play goal for his first point on a man advantage since Jan. 20. Thornton has three goals and 10 assists in 12 games after the break.

[RELATED: NHL standings]

Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov. The highly touted prospect made his NHL debut on March 10, and has five assists in his first six games. He has yet to score his first goal, although he converted in the shootout against the Kings on Thursday. The Russian native was Washington’s first round pick (26th overall) in 2010.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.94 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.32 (4th)
Power play: 16.1 percent (22nd)
Penalty kill: 84.5 percent (7th)

Capitals
Goals per game: 2.78 (14th)
Goals-against per game: 2.86 (22nd)
Power play: 23.9 percent (2nd)
Penalty kill: 81.4 percent (18th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Marty Havlat – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Tyler Kennedy – Andrew Desjardins – Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle
Matt Irwin – Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Capitals
Marcus Johansson – Jay Beagle – Alex Ovechkin
Evgeny Kuznetsov – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Dustin Penner – Chris Brown – Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Jack Hillen – Mike Green
Dmitri Orlov – Patrick Wey

Jaroslav Halak
Braden Holtby

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and Raffi Torres (right knee) are out. Brad Stuart (upper body) is questionable.

Capitals: Aaron Volpatti (upper body), Mikhail Grabovski (sprained ankle), John Erskine (upper body) and Brooks Laich (groin) are out.

Season/All-Time series

Washington has not won in San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993, going 0-11-1 over that span.

San Jose won the only earlier meeting this season, 2-1 in a shootout, and is 17-1-0 in its last 18 games against the Capitals. The Sharks are 22-9-0 all-time vs. Washington, with one tie.

Quoteable

“We’ve still got a long way to go before playoffs start, and a lot of points out there we need to get still.” – Logan Couture

Burning question

How have the Sharks been able to have so much success against Eastern Conference teams since the end of the Olympic break? Leave your answer in the comments section below.

 

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