sfgate.com photo: Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), of Denmark, celebrates his winning goal in overtime of an NHL hockey game with defenseman John Carlson (74) as San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates away Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Washington
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks lost to the Washington Capitals 5-4 in overtime on Sunday. The Sharks dominated through most of the game, with a second period hat-trick from Evander Kane, and an empty net goal from Logan Couture in the third. But the Capitals came back with two goals in the final minute of the third to tie the game. Washington goals came from Jakub Vrana (2), Nic Dowd, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 25 saves in the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 24 saves in the loss.
An important bright spot for the Sharks was that they scored two power play goals. With their game going so well, the last-minute collapse was a shock. After the game, Sharks forward Joe Thornton summarized his team’s game as: “It looked good, it looked real good, then all of a sudden just disappeared, real quick.”
Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner gave the Capitals some credit in the loss:
It’s tough to let that one get away, 4-2 with a minute to go. I mean, you know, third period we didn’t allow a lot five on five. Defensively, we were pretty tight. You could take a million great things out of this game for us but, you know, that’s why they’re leading the league. That’s why they’ve got the most points, because they find ways to win games. As disappointed as I am, I’m pretty content on the way our five-on-five game looks.
The first period was scoreless and penalty free, with the teams very close in shots at 13-10 Sharks. At 1:14 of the second period, Barclay Goodrow tipped a Timo Meier shot into the net. The goal was disallowed, as Goodrow’s stick was too high when he touched the puck.
The Sharks scored their first goal on the power play at 6:25. Joe Thornton picked up a rebound from an Evander Kane shot. He circled around by the boards and then gave the puck back to Kane for a quick shot to the far side of the net. Assists went to Thornton and Timo Meier.
The Capitals got that back at 7:29 when Nic Dowd skated to the net and got a pass from Brendan Leipsic. The Sharks were caught out of position defensively, allowing both Washington skaters to get a step on them. Assists went to Leipsic and Michal Kempny.
Another defensive breakdown by the Sharks left Martin Jones to make a save while Hathaway was tripping over him at 7:56. A slashing penalty to Evander Kane came out of that.
The Sharks killed that off and as soon as the penalty ended, Kane came out of the box and followed Logan Couture into the zone. Couture dropped the puck to him just inside the blue line. As Couture continued to skate to the net, he created a screen for Kane to shoot and score at 10:06. Assists went to Couture and Melker Karlsson.
Kane completed the second period hat trick with a second power play goal at 16:49. Radko Gudas was in the box for slashing Patrick Marleau as they competed for position in front of the net. Erik Karlsson took a shot right up the center and before anyone else could find the puck, Kane caught the rebound and knocked it in. Assists went to Karlsson and Timo Meier.
The Capitals got one back before the period ended, at 18:42. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s attempt to send the puck around the boards was thwarted by an official’s skate behind the net. T.J Oshie gathered up the puck and sent it to the front of the net where Jakub Vrana was waiting to shoot it in.
The shots were close again in the second period, 12-11 Capitals.
The Sharks held their lead but did not extend it through most of the third period. The Sharks had killed off a Washington power play and failed to score on two of their own. Logan Couture scored into the empty net at 19:00, giving the Sharks the two goal lead.
Washington got one back just 13 seconds later. The Sharks couldn’t get the puck out, under siege from six Washington skaters. When Lars Eller went to center the puck, his pass went off of Mario Ferraro’s skate and to Jakub Vrana in a perfect shooting position. Assists went to Eller and Radko Gudas.
The teams sat for some time then, waiting for an issue to be resolved by officials.
When they got back to play, T.J. Oshie tied the game at 19:45. With their net empty again, and with a clear prevented by a bounce off of an official (again), the puck ended up in the face-off circle, on Oshie’s stick. Assists went to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom.
The shots in the third period were surprisingly low but shocking for the Sharks, who had only three. The Capitals had six.
The Sharks had some good moments in overtime. Timo Meier broke up a pass to prevent a three-on-one goal at early, then he sent a pass to Brent Burns for a breakaway. Timo Meier had a shot go off of the goal post, and then Burns and Kane had a two-on-one that Holtby stopped. The Sharks got two shots on goal before it was over.
The Capitals responded with a two-on-one against Erik Karlsson. John Carlson carried the puck in and made a pass across to Lars Eller, who scored as Martin Jones slid across to follow the pass. Assists went to Carlson and Holtby. It was Washington’s only shot of the overtime period.
The teams ended the game with 29 shots each.
The Sharks next play on Tuesday in St. Louis against the Blues at 5:00 PM PT.