The San Jose Sharks ended the longest scoreless streak in franchise history in their last game. On Wednesday night, they'll try to avoid their longest losing streak this season in a building where they've had a lot of recent success.
Looking to end a three-game slide, San Jose will try to even its record on a season-high eight-game road trip at the Verizon Center against the Washington Capitals.
San Jose (36-22-1) also lost three in a row from Dec. 26-30, but hasn't had a longer skid since dropping four straight one-goal decisions from Dec. 22-28, 2005. The Sharks have won five in a row in Washington since a 3-1 loss in February 1999.
The Sharks were losing in Dallas 3-0 when Mark Smith's power-play goal early in the third period Sunday ended the team's record scoreless drought at 190 minutes, 22 seconds. Mike Grier also scored with less than 7 minutes to play, but San Jose fell to 2-3-0 on its road swing with a 5-2 defeat that dropped the Sharks into a second-place tie with the Stars in the Pacific Division.
"It's a little late in the season for moral victories," Grier said. "We're not getting it done."
A big reason for the Sharks' struggles of late has been the lack of production from Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo.
Thornton, last season's Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner, had a goal and five assists in Sharks' first two games of the road trip, but only has one assist in the last three.
Cheechoo, who had a league-best 56 goals in 2005-06, had three goals and three assists in wins at Anaheim and St. Louis but has failed to record a point during the losing streak.
"We've been in a slump but we're capable of scoring," Thornton said after the loss to the Stars. "We hope this kick-starts something."
This game also marks the first appearance of Sharks coach Ron Wilson in Washington, where he guided the Capitals from 1997-2002. Wilson led them to their only Stanley Cup finals appearance in his first season, but were overmatched in getting swept by Detroit. Washington went on to win Southeast Division titles in 2000 and 2001, but failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs either time.
Wilson didn't have Alexander Ovechkin on his bench, but last season's Calder Trophy winner also continues to slump as does the rest of the team. The All-Star failed to record a point in Washington's 5-3 loss to Montreal on Tuesday night, and has one goal and one assist in his last eight games.
Current Capitals coach Glen Hanlon, though, was pleased with his team's effort.
"The real plus for our game was we were down 3-0 in a building that can get fairly intimidating for a team when they get behind and we came out and got some pucks deep and managed to play physical," he said.
With longtime goaltender Olaf Kolzig sidelined by a knee injury, the Capitals (23-28-9) have given up 16 goals - eight on the power play - while dropping four in a row, and are 12 points behind defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Brian Sutherby, Jamie Heward and Alexander Semin all scored second-period goals for Washington. Sutherby and Heward scored 30 seconds apart early before Semin added his 32nd in the final minute.
Semin trails Ovechkin by two goals for the team lead.