San Jose extended their winning streak to six games when they defeated Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at HP Pavilion Friday night by the final score of 4-1.
Evgeni Nabokov squared off against Olaf Kolzig in the nets. It was Nabokov who was tested first. Just two minutes in, some smooth stickhandling by Dainius Zubrus drew two defenders as he setup a pinching Jamie Heward on the doorstep. Nabokov cut down the angle and easily covered the shot.
Hard work by Marcel Goc along the boards forced Ivan Majesky into a tripping penalty and San Jose had the opening power play. With the Sharks pressuring, Chris Clark cleared the puck into the stands and San Jose had 1:20 of five-on-three time. For 50 seconds, the puck never left the zone, but Washington avoided any serious damage when Joe Thornton took his first penalty as a Shark – a hooking call.
In what has become the expected at HP Pavilion recently, San Jose struck first and it was the handiwork of Joe Thornton setting up Jonathan Cheechoo. The play wouldn’t have happened without the gritty play of Scott Thornton. The elder cousin fought hard for a loose puck in the Washington zone and then when he sent the puck deep, his younger cousin was waiting. Joe Thornton froze the Washington defense from behind the net and then perfectly fed Cheechoo crashing down the slot. Kolzig had no hope on the one-timer and San Jose was up 1-0.
With four minutes remaining in the first, Ben Clymer was setup with a golden chance to tie the contest, but his shot from eight feet out in the slot was grabbed by Nabokov. Thirty seconds after the save, San Jose increased their advantage. Carrying the puck down on a two-on-two rush, Joe Thornton easily avoided an attempted check by Majesky and skated in on Kolzig. As the defender stuck with the second attacker, Thornton carried the puck across the crease, knocking the backhand in for the 2-0 lead.
The goal marked Joe Thornton’s sixth consecutive multi-point game, as he continues to add to his Sharks record.
San Jose looked to further increase the lead on an ensuing power play, but would have to settle for the two-goal lead at the intermission.
Early in the second, it was Milan Michalek who provided the highlights. Early in a shift, he drove the slot with a man covering him and somehow dragged the puck from one side of his body to the other while rifling off a shot. Kolzig made the save on that one, but Michalek’s shift was not over.
His next attempt would not miss. Skating full speed with a man on him, the Czech rookie was hooked and the refs hand went up. Michalek kept skating and dangled the puck in front of Kolzig before pulling it back and sliding it five-hole. Michalek skated toward the fans and banged on the glass in celebration with them.
Sharks fans are becoming familiar with the rough and tumble style of Doug Murray and when the Swede eliminated an Ovechkin scoring chance, the two exchanged a couple of shoves. The heated exchange prompted a Cheechoo hit on the other end.
A full minute of four-on-four play provided some opportunities for both clubs with five minutes left in the middle stanza, but it was a cross check on Marcel Goc that gave Team Teal an extremely brief five-on-three and an additional two-minute power play ensued. Washington’s penalty killers did their job for a fifth consecutive time and San Jose’s lead would stay at three after 40 minutes.
To start the third, San Jose killed off 45 seconds of Capitals power play time and looked to improve on their 8-1-0 mark when taking a lead into the third period.
Washington would finally solve Nabokov on a redirected shot from the point. The Ben Clymer shot bounced off a Capitals player in the high slot and went high on Nabokov.
The hit of the game came when a loose puck bounced in the air and Ovechkin looked to field it. As the puck game down, Josh Langfeld hammered the talented Russian rookie and the Calder candidate hit the ice.
Washington was pressuring late in the third in an attempt to pull within one, but the Captain’s line struck to make the lead three with just over four minutes remaining. Skating with the puck on a two-on-one, Marleau put the pass between the reach of two defenders and found a wide open McCauley. The recently converted left winger wristed the puck upstairs for the 4-1 lead.
The Sharks killed off the last two and a half minutes of the game, not allowing the Capitals to get any threats on goal. San Jose skated off with the 4-1 victory, extending their win streak to six.
NOT FREEZING IN CALIFORNIA
Former popular Sharks winger Jeff Friesen now plays for Washington, but he did not play as he is on the injured reserve list with a sports hernia and could reportedly be sidelined until February.
Kyle McLaren missed his first game following a minor scope to his knee and Jim Fahey entered the lineup in his absence. Recent recall Josh Gorges was San Jose’s only other scratch.
San Jose next faces off against Anaheim Sunday at 5 p.m. in Southern California. The game will be on FSN+ (and be joined in progress on FSN Bay Area), 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.