Instant Replay: Sharks stumble vs. Capitals, lose in SO

Instant Replay: Sharks stumble vs. Capitals, lose in SO
March 22, 2014, 9:45 pm
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Capitals' Joel Ward (42) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the first period on Saturday night. (AP)


SAN JOSE – Chris Brown’s goal in the third period tied it, and the Washington Capitals went on to a 3-2 shootout win over the Sharks on Saturday night at SAP Center.

The Sharks would have clinched a playoff spot with a win, after Phoenix lost in regulation to Boston earlier in the night. They managed to move three points ahead of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, but the idle Ducks now have two games in hand.

Washington won in San Jose for the first time since Oct. 30, 1993 (1-11-1).

James Sheppard’s one-man effort gave the Sharks their first lead early in the third. The forward blocked a Jason Chimera shot just inside his own blue line, and raced ahead with an unobstructed view of goaltender Braden Holtby. Sheppard went to his backhand and slipped it through Holtby’s five-hole at 5:07 for his third goal in 57 games.

A pinballing puck off of the stick of Brown tied it with 7:30 to go in regulation. Playing in his 14th career game, Brown’s shot from the slot hit Matt Nieto and then Dan Boyle before finding the goal.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the skills competition for the Capitals, with Backstrom’s goal the decider. The Sharks had won their previous seven straight shootouts, while Washington had dropped five in a row.

The Sharks had a chance to take the lead late in the third when Alex Ovechkin went off for high-sticking Marc-Edoaurd Vlasic, who seemed to be a target all night. Holtby held the fort during a dangerous Sharks power play, forcing overtime with some good saves on a pair of Logan Couture attempts.

San Jose’s penalty kill remained effective, denying the Capitals on three power plays. Washington entered with the league’s second best power play percentage, and had scored 10 man advantage goals in its last nine games.

The Sharks gifted Washington a 1-0 lead. Antti Niemi stopped Joel Ward’s shot with his right pad, and Justin Braun was in position to clear it out of the crease. Instead, Braun shot the puck into Nieto’s leg, and it deflected into the open cage at 11:25. Fehr was credited with his 12th goal.

Nieto helped generate the tying goal late in the first, when Matt Green turned it over to him behind the Washington net. Nieto wheeled the puck around to the front where Holtby sealed off the post, but Patrick Marleau popped in the loose puck with less than six seconds remaining. Marleau’s goal was his 30th on the year.

San Jose won the first meeting of the two teams, 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 14. The Sharks finished with a 21-7-4 mark against Eastern Conference teams, including 10-3-3 against the Metropolitan Division.

Special teams
After scoring one power play goal in each of their last two games, the Sharks had three opportunities with a man advantage, and did not convert. The Capitals were also 0-for-3.

San Jose has killed off 19 of the last 20 power play chances against over the last eight games.

In goal
Niemi was credited with 23 saves on 25 shots, and could not be faulted on either of Washington’s goals.

Jaroslav Halak appeared set to start the game for Washington, but he instead acted as backup after a reported lower body injury. Halak had started the previous eight games for the Capitals after a trade with Buffalo.

Holtby made 34 saves.

Marleau reached the 30-goal plateau for the seventh time in his career. He has eight goals and five assists for 13 points in his last 14 games.

The Sharks iced the same lineup that they did against Anaheim.

Up next
The Sharks visit Calgary and Edmonton on Monday and Tuesday.

San Jose has 10 games left on its schedule, five each at home and on the road.