Marleau: 'We'll take the two points'
The Sharks have alternated wins and losses in their last nine games, and improved to 13-10-3 on the road in what was the first of three straight games away from SAP Center. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Tyler Kenendy ended a lengthy scoring drought and Patrick Marleau was the only player to convert in the shootout in a 2-1 Sharks win in Washington on Tuesday night.
Kennedy, who entered Tuesday with just one assist in his last 17 games and no goals in his last 18, gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Jason Demers’ hard pass to Kennedy’s tape between the circles resulted in a redirection past Phillipp Grubauer at 13:30.
Washington tied it in the second on Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading 33rd goal. Stationed below the faceoff dot, Ovechkin quickly released a dish from Karl Alzner over Antti Niemi’s short side shoulder at 12:44 of the middle frame.
The game remained knotted at 1-1 through overtime. In the shootout, Marleau’s shot hit the inside of the post before bounding in, giving San Jose its seventh win in the last eight games that have gone to a tie breaker.
The Sharks have alternated wins and losses in their last nine games, and improved to 13-10-3 on the road in what was the first of three straight games away from home.
A fast-paced third period resulted in scoring chances for both teams, but no goals. After a Dmitry Orlov giveaway in front of the net, Marleau hit the post with a backhand, and Tommy Wingels nearly put in the loose puck before Grubauer snagged it with his glove midway through.
Just before that chance, Niemi denied Eric Fehr, who skated untouched from the back of the net to in front of the crease. Later, Niemi stopped Mikhail Grabovski’s open look with about five minutes to go in regulation.
Fehr and Demers each had good chances in overtime before the game needed a shootout to determine the winner.
Since getting scratched on Dec. 19, Demers has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 12 games. He leads all Sharks defensemen with 22 points.
Mike Brown and Washington’s Aaron Volpatti dropped the gloves in the first period for one of the more vicious and entertaining fights of the season. Both players ended up needing repairs, with Brown getting the better of the shots in, and there was a brief delay as the linesmen cleaned up the blood-spattered ice about 12 minutes into the game.
Late in overtime, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic appeared to be shaken up after getting a left hook to the jaw from Washington’s Jason Chimera. There was no penalty called.
The Sharks improved to 17-1-0 in their last 18 games against Washington, and are 10-4-2 against the Eastern Conference this season. Washington visits San Jose on March 22.
There were only two power plays in the game. Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for tripping Wingels in the first minute of the third period, but the Sharks did not convert.
The Sharks avoided seeing the Capitals’ second-ranked power play until late in the third period on Marleau’s hooking minor on Grabovski at 18:45. The Capitals set up Ovechkin for a couple of one-timers from the circle, but Niemi turned them aside.
Niemi started for the 10th time in the last 11 games, and has allowed just a single goal in each of his last three starts. He finished with 35 saves.
Grubauer, a rookie, is one of three goalies on the Capitals’ active roster. He stopped 28 of 29 Sharks attempts but fell to 6-2-5.
Matt Irwin returned from an upper body injury, in place of Scott Hannan. The defenseman, who has been in and out of the lineup this season, had missed the last two games.
The three-game road trip continues on to Florida on Thursday, and Tampa Bay Saturday. The Sharks host Calgary on Monday, Jan. 20, and will play eight of their final 10 games before the Olympic break at SAP Center.