SAN JOSE -- The Washington Capitals defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-0 at SAP Center on Saturday to move back into first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals (38-23-7) have one point more than the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Saturday.
"We have to continue," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We have to have that playoff mode going forward here. There's teams closing in on us a little bit. We have a couple games in hand, but you [have] to win those games in hand. This was a huge win for us."
[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Sharks highlights]
Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season, and Nicklas Backstrom scored late in the second period. Washington had not won in regulation at San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993, the Capitals' first game here.
Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin remained two goals from becoming the 20th player with 600 in the NHL. He had a breakaway with 7:14 left in the third period, but Martin Jones made a glove save on his wrist shot.
Video: Grubauer earns Saturday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
Jones made 22 saves for the Sharks (36-23-9), who are in second place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and two ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. San Jose trails the Vegas Golden Knights by 12 points.
"It was one of those games we never really got our momentum going," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "It was a couple turnovers early, and we break out, get going a little bit then revert back. That's just part of how hockey is right now. I don't think they had a ton of chances. We have to realize we've got to keep sticking it in. We were one shot off from tying that game."
Backstrom made it 1-0 at 18:32 of the second period with a slap shot from the left circle to the far side. Lars Eller scored into an empty net with 1:49 remaining in the third period to make it 2-0.
"It was nice to see it go in," Backstrom said. "Two good goaltenders out there. You know it's going to be this kind of game, playoff game kind of, a lot of back and forth. Also nice to get the [win]."
Washington won the finale of its California road trip after losing to Anaheim 4-0 on Tuesday and to Los Angeles 3-1 on Thursday.
"It was a really solid game," Trotz said. "Just look at this whole road trip. Take away maybe that first period in Anaheim, we played pretty well, we just didn't get the results. Today was really solid. The first two periods were as good as you're going to get from us. We didn't give them anything."
Video: WSH@SJS: Jones flashes the leather on Wilson
San Jose, which defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Thursday, is 3-2-0 with one game left on its homestand.
"I thought we were good enough to hang around and stay in it but not good enough to win it," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "And that's a line you have to be on the right side of this time of the year."
Washington outshot San Jose 12-3 in the second period. Ovechkin had the puck on a 2-on-1, but Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated back and disrupted his shot.
Grubauer made 12 first-period saves in his first consecutive start of the season.
"It helps a lot to get into the game," he said. "It helps me. It could have gone the other way today. They had four or five posts. It could have gone a different way too. Lucky and blessed to get the two points."
Goal of the game
Backstrom's goal at 18:32 of the second period.
Video: WSH@SJS: Backstrom blasts one home from the circle
Save of the game
Grubauer's save on Brenden Dillon at 3:07 of the third period.
Video: WSH@SJS: Grubauer robs Dillon with glove on the rush
Highlight of the game
Jones' save on Ovechkin with 7:14 left in the third period.
Video: WSH@SJS: Jones stones Ovechkin on breakaway
They said it
"I feel like the biggest thing for us as a team is we played together, we played for each other, and we played a tight hockey game and good defensively. That's the good thing we're taking from this game. We had some really good chances too. Played like a team. That's the biggest thing for us right now." -- Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom
"We were losing battles all over the ice. We weren't breaking out clean and they were. We weren't forechecking and they were." -- Sharks forward Logan Couture
Need to know
Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly was scratched after playing 18 straight games. Travis Boyd took his place and played 6:54. ... Sharks forward Melker Karlsson (lower body) missed his second straight game. ... It was Doug Wilson's 1,100th game as Sharks general manager. … Ovechkin had a game-high six shots. He has one goal in his past five games, none in his past three. .. Grubauer shut out the New York Rangers, losing 1-0 in a shootout Dec. 27. He has started 20 games. Braden Holtby does not have a shutout in 48 starts.
Capitals: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Monday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, NBCSWA, TSN-3, NHL.TV)
Sharks: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, FS-D, NHL.TV)
Video: Grubauer carries Caps to 2-0 shutout win