Sharks Special Teams Keys 4-2 Victory Over Caps

March 9, 2017

NHL, San Jose Sharks

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) crashes into San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones, rear, and defenseman Justin Braun (61) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By Jerry Feitelberg

SAN JOSE–When the calendar flips to March for NHL, playoff-bound teams look to test their mettle against the best of the league’s bunch. Thursday night at the SAP Center, the San Jose Sharks passed the test with flying colors.  The Sharks beat the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals 4-2 on the of two power play goals and a strike just seconds after a four-minute man-advantage. Logan Couture scored a pair of goals, while the Joes Thornton and Pavelski added one apiece. Jannik Hansen picked up an assist in his debut with the Sharks and Brent Burns added a trio of helpers as well.

Former Shark Daniel Winnik opened the scoring after Jay Beagle’s seeing-eye backhanded pass from below the goal line connected with Winnik’s skate. Winnik pulled the puck to his stick, beating netminder Martin Jones for a 1-0 lead 5:26 into play.

Freshly minted with gifts to commemorate his 1,000th career assist, Joe Thornton decided to instead score Thursday drawing the Sharks even 8:43 into the period. Hansen, playing in his first game in teal after Visa delays, fed Thornton with a perfect one-timer, allowing the future Hall-of-Famer to beat Braden Holtby for his 6th goal of the season.

The Capitals opened the second period down a man after Brooks Orpik’s double-minor in the final 1:28 of the first period. While the Sharks power play, struggling at just 17.2 percent, didn’t capitalize on the opportunity, they did score immediately after. Pavelski picked up his 24th goal of the season as Orpik’s minor expired in typical fashion, tipping a Brent Burns point shot past one of the front-runners for the Vezina Trophy winner in Holtby.

San Jose’s goal at 2:23 would give them a short lead before Brett Connolly would even the score late in the second period. Connolly played give-and-go with Washington’s trade deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk, redirecting Shattenkirk’s shot pass for his 14th goal of the season.

The Sharks would again find themselves on the power play in the closing moments of a period after Jay Beagle went to the sin bin for tripping 2:02 left in the second. The Sharks took advantage this time, scoring just six seconds into the power play. Burns would rip a wrister in the slot with the rebound bouncing back to the defenseman’s backhand. Couture, however was on Burn’s hip and picked up the loose puck ripping a shot over Holtby’s left shoulder for his 2nd goal of the year and a 3-1 lead.

Couture struck again in the third, scoring on a perfect redirect on a shot-pass from Burns 8:05 into the period on the power play. Burns fired the puck right to Couture’s stick with the forward waiting on the far post for the easy deflection goal and his second of the game.

The Sharks won the special teams battle, going 2-for-5 on the power play while holding Alex Ovechkin and the Caps power play to an 0-for-5 night. They’ll look for the luck to continue in a rematch of last year’s conference semifinals when the Nashville Predators visit SAP for the Sharks second of six-straight home games.

 

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