The Sharks used a rare shootout victory to earn a 3-2 victory in Washington, running their win streak against the Capitals to 10 and moving their road trip record to 3-3.
San Jose saw the infusion of Curtis Brown (newborn baby), Joe Pavelski
(foot) and Steve Bernier back into the lineup and that definitely helped the cause.
Evgeni Nabokov started opposite Brent Johnson in Ron Wilson’s return to Washington where he coached the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Nolan Schaefer backed up Nabokov as Vesa Toskala rested his sore groin. Unfortunately, Captain Patrick Marleau
missed the contest due to a bout of food poisoning, but the Sharks would overcome their missing leader.
Both clubs were skating hard early, but no shot came in the game’s opening nine minutes. When a Cheechoo blast was saved by Johnson, the play went the other way and Washington scored on their first shot.
An initial save bounced out front to Shaone Morrisonn and he blasted a screened shot behind Nabokov. When the Sharks looked to quickly re-group, Washington struck again. Just 29 seconds following the first strike, Nabokov make successive stops out front, but when the puck wasn’t cleared, Brian Sutherby poked in the loose change for the 2-0 lead.
San Jose would crack the scoreboard late in first when Mike Grier led a two-on-one with Patrick Rissmiller. The veteran Grier held the puck as Johnson was forced to commit and then dished the rubber to the striding Rissmiller who knocked it in. The tally changed the momentum of the games and Team Teal began firing more and more on Johnson.
San Jose would trail by just the one goal at the intermission, but they seemed to be on the right track to turn the game around.
During the second period, the Sharks completely controlled play and put opportunity after opportunity on Johnson, but could not find a second tally in the second intermission. They did however fend off a late Capitals power play thanks to an amazing Nabokov save and kept the deficit at one.
Six minutes into the third, and on their second power play of the stanza, San Jose found the equalizer. Jonathan Cheechoo was banging away at a loose puck in front, and while he did not score, he kept Johnson’s attention and when the shot moved to the far part of the crease, Matt Carle was Johnny-on-the-spot for the goal.
With 5:35 left in regulation, Kyle McLaren was forced to take a minor penalty to prevent a scoring chance and the penalty killers had a late challenge on their hands. Washington used their timeout during the two minutes to try and set up a potential game winning goal, but Team Teal killed off the power play.
Bernier nearly sent San Jose home the winner when he redirected a shot with less than two minutes left, but the game was destined for overtime, just the third extra stanza for San Jose this year.
In the five-minute overtime, Nabokov stopped an initial Richard Zednick shot and then poked away the rebound before anyone could reach it. That big save propelled the game to a shootout, which is not normally the Sharks friend. But Wednesday night would be different.
Washington scored on their opening shot, but could not beat Nabokov after that. Successive goals by Pavelski and Cheechoo were the difference as Cheechoo’s backhander proved to be the winner. San Jose moved to 3-3 on the road trip as they prepped to fly to Chicago for game seven of the trek.
Matt Bradley, who was a Sharks draft pick and who donned the teal from 2000-2003, skated for Washington.
The Sharks will travel to Chicago for a Thursday night contest that will be carried at 5:30 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.