Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley scored third-period goals to help the Sharks beat Washington 3-2 Thursday night -- keeping the Caps winless in their last 11 visits to San Jose.
Joe Pavelski had a shorthanded goal in the first period and Antti Niemi stopped 23 shots for San Jose, which has won 14 of its last 15 overall against the Caps, including two wins in the last nine days.
"We played hard, but we played against a good team and lost by one," Cap coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The game was tied 1-1 before Clowe scored 4:27 into the third period. Kyle Wellwood fired a puck from the boards to the front of the crease. Clowe knocked it down with his stick and then put a backhander past a sprawling Michal Neuvirth for his 15th goal.
San Jose added what proved to be the game-winner on the power play midway through the third when Heatley tipped in a point shot from Dan Boyle that deflected off the stick of a Washington defender, Pavelski and Joe Thornton before Heatley knocked it past Neuvirth for the Sharks' first power-play goal in six games.
"Unbelievable, those three guys," Boyle said. "It is what it is, a win. A bunch of greasy forwards we got."
The Capitals got one goal back when Backstrom scored with 1:55 remaining, but could not get the equalizer.
"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."
The win moved the Sharks into fifth place in the West -- they're tied with Nashville at 70 points but have played one more game.
"Everyone realizes the standings and how tight the West is," Pavelski said. "Every game has a playoff atmosphere. We're trying to get there and you think you make up a little ground but you really don't make any."
Washington remained fifth in the East, one point ahead of Montreal a 4-1 loser at Edmonton.
The Sharks returned home after going 5-2-0 on a seven-game trip to begin a stretch of 15 home games in their final 24 contests. They took a while to get their legs.
"We weren't very sharp early," McLellan said. "That is always a concern after a long trip and a much-needed day off. We got sharper as the game went on."
There were only a few scoring chances in the first two periods, with the only goals coming 22 seconds apart on the same power play in the closing minutes of the first period.
Just 9 seconds after Ben Eager was sent off for tripping Ovechkin in the offensive zone, Washington defenseman John Carlson lost the puck at the point. Patrick Marleau fed Pavelski, who raced in and beat Neuvirth at 18:49.
The Capitals tied it 22 seconds later when Ovechkin beat Niemi with a wrist shot from the top of the circles for his 23rd goal and second in as many nights.
"Ovi looks like the old Ovi now," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "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."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|SHG - Joe Pavelski (13) ASST: Patrick Marleau (22)|
1 - 0 SJS
|PPG - Alex Ovechkin (23) ASST: John Carlson (18), Alexander Semin (19)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Ryane Clowe (15) ASST: Kyle Wellwood (1), Logan Couture (13)|
2 - 1 SJS
|PPG - Dany Heatley (20) ASST: Joe Thornton (34), Joe Pavelski (29)|
3 - 1 SJS
|Nicklas Backstrom (15) ASST: John Carlson (19), Alex Ovechkin (37)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Alex Ovechkin Interference against Douglas Murray|
|Ben Eager Tripping against Alex Ovechkin|
|John Erskine Interference against Scott Nichol|