After a wild 7-6 victory in Anaheim and the reappearance of Alexander Semin to the goal category on Wednesday, it looked as if the spark had returned to the Washington Capitals. The Caps moved on in their West Coast tour with a stop last night in San Jose to face the struggling Sharks.
Both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom knocked in tallies last night; Ovechkin ended with a goal and an assist for another solid game. “Ovi looks like the old Ovi now,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “I hadn’t been able to say that but in recent games he has been, so let’s hope he continues. The energy he’s playing with, he’s coming back hard and he’s not staying upright and his shifts were short. And all those things encompass a good leader. That’s what he was doing.”
After the game tied up at one apiece after the first period – both goals coming in the last three minutes – it was a slow, tight defensive grind by both teams going into the third. The Caps had jump, something lacking in recent weeks, but the Shark’s blue line did not allow a lot of scoring chances. “We are holding a lot of teams to two goals,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “That is allowing us to have a chance to win games.”
Backstrom’s wrister pulled the Caps back within one with less than two minutes to go, but, as seems to be the norm this season, the Caps couldn’t pull off the last minute equalizer to send the game to overtime. Not that it would matter much; the Caps have been less than stellar when stretching games past regulation.
Ovechkin’s goal came on the lone power play for the team all night. Unfortunately, the Shark’s Joe Pavelski had just popped in a short-handed goal not 20 seconds earlier. The Sharks also capitalized later on an interference call on John Erskine, which proved to be the game winner.
Washington currently sits at the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens. Next game is Sunday, with the Caps visiting Buffalo for the 12:30 NBC game.