House Of Horrors – The Capitals’ winless streak in San Jose reached an even dozen (0-11-1) on Saturday night – as did the team’s four-game winning streak – with a 5-2 loss to the Sharks here.
The Caps came out strong in the first, getting scoring chances and spending a good amount of time in the San Jose end of the ice, but were unable to get the game’s first goal.
Even up after one, the Caps fell behind 1-0 early in the second when the lively boards behind the Washington net kicked a puck back out in front and it bounced in off Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun.
The Caps drew even on a Dennis Wideman power play goal, but the Sharks scored a power play goal of their own in the waning seconds of the second while Wideman was off for high-sticking.
Joel Ward’s first goal since Nov. 5 brought the Caps even again at 2-2 just 44 seconds into the second, but Washington’s shift after that goal wasn’t sharp and San Jose cashed in.
San Jose’s Joe Thornton made a sublime backhand pass with his back turned, finding an isolated Patrick Marleau parked at the right post. Marleau tapped the puck into the yawning cage to give the Sharks a lead they would not relinquish.
The Capitals have now gone eight full games in San Jose without owning a lead. Washington has been outscored by a combined 46-23 during the life of its 12-game winless streak here. The Caps’ last win in San Jose came on Oct. 30, 1993.
Turning Points – The Sharks began to turn the momentum tide in the second, forechecking hard and having a strong presence at the top of the paint in front of Vokoun. San Jose, now 8-1-3 in its last dozen games, was playing its third game in four nights. Getting a late goal in the second had to be a big momentum lift for the Sharks.
The Caps got that one back on Ward’s goal, and were poised to play some road hockey and wear the Sharks down, but Marleau’s goal ensured that Washington would again have to try to play catch-up hockey instead. San Jose’s penalty killing outfit is the third worst in the league, but the Caps only had one power play chance in the game’s first 40 minutes.
Trailing 3-2 near the midway point of the third, the Caps were about to get their second man-advantage opportunity of the game when San Jose’s Brad Winchester took a rook at the Capitals’ Alexander Semin, incurring a charging minor in the process. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin jumped Winchester after the hit, an admirable event from Washington’s standpoint. But Ovechkin’s good deed was not without cost; he got a coincidental roughing minor.
Playing four aside for the next two minutes, the Caps were without their captain and best player while San Jose was without a bottom six forward. The Sharks pounced, scoring a 4-on-4 goal when Semin was unable to contain San Jose blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic down low in the Washington end. Vokoun stopped Vlasic twice, but Semin was unable to tie up the defenseman’s stick and Vlasic made good on his third try, lifting the puck over Vokoun to make it 4-2.
First Strike – For the eighth time in their last eight visits to the Shark Tank, the Capitals surrendered the game’s first goal in Saturday’s contest. Sharks defenseman Jason Demers started the game’s scoring, putting San Jose up at 5:15 of the first period.
The last time Washington scored the game’s first goal in San Jose was when Caps blueliner Sergei Gonchar scored in the first period of a Dec. 12, 1998 game against the Sharks here. The Capitals went on to lose that game, 2-1.
Gonchar's goal was the last time the Caps led a game in San Jose.
Green Gone – Caps defenseman Mike Green, playing in just his second game after an absence of nearly two months from the Washington lineup, left tonight’s contest midway through the second period and did not return.
Green was on the receiving end of a hard hit from San Jose’s Andrew Desjardins in the sixth minute of the second period, but he skated one more shift after that.
Caps coach Dale Hunter said Green’s absence was unrelated to that hit. According to Hunter, Green’s groin tightened up and the Caps held him out the rest of the way as a precautionary measure. Green initially injured his groin in a Nov. 11 game at New Jersey and had been sidelined for nearly two months before returning to action this past Tuesday night against Calgary.
Green has played in just 19 of Washington’s last 74 games, including the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. He has not played more than eight consecutive games since he played 22 straight from Dec. 15, 2010 through Feb. 6, 2011.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears started their weekend in Philadelphia where they faced the Adirondack Phantoms in an outdoor game at Citizens Bank Park. The Bears came up on the short end of a 4-3 overtime decision in that one.
On Saturday night, the Bears headed back to Giant Center for a rematch with the Phantoms. Hershey had no trouble taking that one, 5-2.
The Bears fell down 1-0 in the first, but drew even late in the frame when Chris Bourque scored a shorthanded goal for his 20th goal of the season. Boyd Kane’s 10th of the season staked Hershey to a 2-1 lead early in the second, but the Phantoms pulled even again less than 90 seconds later.
The score was tied at 2-2 heading into the third. The Bears’ Jacob Micflikier put the home team ahead for good with his 13th of the season, a power play strike at 1:18 of the third. Defensemen Julien Brouillette and Patrick McNeill each added their sixth of the season to pad the lead and give the Bears some late insurance.
Dany Sabourin made 28 stops in the Hershey nets to run his record to 9-4-0-2 on the season.
The Bears cap off a busy weekend on Sunday when they host Rochester at Giant Center. The 20-8-4-3 Bears sit atop the AHL’s East Division standings, two points ahead of second-place Norfolk.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays started the weekend off with a 3-2 home ice loss to Elmira on Friday night. The Stingrays were back in action on Saturday, this time on the road in Wheeling. The Stingrays downed the Nailers 3-1 to halt a five-game losing skid.
South Carolina rallied from a 1-0 deficit to score three unanswered in the third. Chris Doyle, Pierre-Luc O’Brien and Trent Campbell supplied the offense to support Philipp Grubauer’s 28-save efforts in the South Carolina nets.
The Stingrays finish off a busy weekend on Sunday when they pay a visit to Toledo. The 16-16-1-1 Stingrays are last in the ECHL’s South Division, nine points behind first-place Gwinnett.
By The Numbers –John Carlson led the Caps with 26:34 in ice time … For the fifth straight game, the Capitals blocked 20 or more shots. Wideman led the way with six … Matt Hendricks led the Caps with five hits, racking those up in just 8:21 of work … The Caps managed as many as 30 shots on net for the first time in 10 games.