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Capitals @ Sharks Recap: Samsonov Says “No Way, San Jose” in 4-0 Shutout

Oshie and Dowd return to the lineup, Ovi and Sheary each score twice, and Samsonov records consecutive shutouts in the win at SAP Center.

NHL: Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

In the third stop on their annual West Coast road trip, the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks are facing off for the first time since January 5, 2020. That’s 685 days. Even better: the last time the Caps visited the SAP Center (December 3, 2019), Brenden Dillon was a Shark. That feels simultaneously like three minutes and three decades ago...time is a social construct and an illusion.

Forwards T.J. Oshie and Nic Dowd were listed as possibilities for tonight’s game after yesterday’s practice, and they were both confirmed in the lineup during warmups. With both of them off IR, the lines looked like this:

That second line? Spicy.

This is only the second time this season that Ilya Samsonov has started consecutive games for Washington. Samsonov is coming off his best game of the season and arguably the best of his NHL career on Wednesday in Los Angeles, making him an obvious choice for starting netminder. Adin Hill, traded to San Jose by the Coyotes in July of this year, is opposite Sammy in net for the Sharks.

Speaking of goalies, friendly reminder that the SAP Center is one of the league’s arenas in which the visitor’s bench is not long enough for the back-up goalie. What does this mean? Well, it means it looks like Vitek Vanecek is in timeout in the zamboni tunnel:

Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Ilya Samsonov had another excellent night in net for Washington. He made a few impressive saves and kept the Caps in the game when the skaters let off the gas. The 22-save effort earned him his second consecutive shutout, and his third shutout of the season.

Minus: The Capitals did not play well in the second period, which is unusual for them this season. The only things that saved them: Samsonov and the Sharks missing a handful of wide open opportunities.

And now, welcome back boys!

Nine more notes on the game:

1. Just 2:17 into the game, Short King Conor Sheary got the Capitals on the board first after a two-on-four down the ice with Daniel Sprong. Yes, you read that right, Sheary and Sprong took on four Sharks and ended up with a goal. Sprong made a smooth zone entry and passed the puck over to Sheary, who kicked it into another gear to give himself space to shoot. The puck went five-hole on Adin Hill, and Sheary now has three goals in his last five games. Aliaksei Protas recorded the secondary assist on the tally, giving him his first NHL point. He has played extremely well since his debut, so he was due for one. Congrats, Protas!

2. With 6:31 left in the first, Marc-Edouard Vlasic said “yeet” and sent the puck over the glass, so he took a seat in the sin bin to serve his delay of game penalty. 28 seconds into the power play, Alex Ovechkin decided working from home was not for him anymore and went into his office to score his 272nd career power play goal. John Carlson set Ovi up perfectly on the play — all the Great 8 had to do was wind up and fire. He now needs just three more PPGs to pass Dave Andreychuk for the most in NHL history. Fun fact: this is the first time Ovi has scored against Adin Hill, bringing his list of goalie victims to 151.

Important: T.J. Oshie had the secondary assist on the goal. Oshbabe returns and Ovi immediately gets his first Ovi Office PPG of the season...coincidence? I think not!

3. Noah Gregor was called for tripping Garnet Hathaway just over four minutes after Vlasic’s penalty. The Caps PP looked to be clicking again, but T.J. Oshie got called for interference on Logan Couture just 25 seconds into the man-advantage. Let’s do that (four-on-four) hockey! But only for 56 seconds, because Justin Schultz barrelled through the crease and ran into Hill, which was rightfully called for goalie interference. Cue 40 seconds of four-on-three! The Sharks were moving the puck around quickly but messily, and Ilya Samsonov was on top of the chances they did generate. 51 seconds of PP time spilled over into the second, but the Caps’ PK survived the abbreviated kill and kept the Sharks off the board.

4. It looked like Protas might have scored his first NHL goal at 14:31 of the second after he roofed a loose rebound past Hill. Unfortunately, Daniel Sprong skated right into Hill and negated the goal due to goalie interference. The Viper remains snakebitten...

5. With 5:11 to go before the second intermission, Carl Hagelin was sloppy with the followthrough of his stick and clipped Jonah Gadjovich up high. The high-sticking penalty drew blood, making it a double minor. Ah yes, a double minor penalty to kill off with one of the team’s top penalty killers in the box, things are going swimmingly. That was supposed to be sarcasm, but things did actually go swimmingly for the Caps on this kill. Of note: Hagelin Lite™, also known as Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, got some time on this PK.

6. Right as Hagelin’s penalty expired, Gregor took San Jose’s second delay of game penalty of the game. Maybe he saw Vlasic blast the puck over the glass earlier and thought, “That looks like fun!” Unfortunately, it seemed as though the Capitals’ definition of “fun” on this power play was not scoring, despite getting 58 seconds of their power play on fresh ice at the start of the third period.

7. An underrated highlight from the second period: Ilya Samsonov doing that thing goalies do when the puck is somewhere under them and just laying down in the crease. Ice hockey and luge are both events at the Winter Olympics, so I guess it’s close enough.

8. With 4:50 left on the clock, Sheary scored his second goal of the game on the Capitals’ best shift since the first period. Coach Laviolette mixed up the lines a bit to start the third period, and Sheary was out there with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The puck bounced off Sheary and onto the ice, where he collected it for the goal. He actually lost his balance when he went to shoot, so he was falling over when the puck found the back of the net — no ifs, ands, or butts about it.

9. Just over two minutes before the final horn, Adin Hill left the net for the extra attacker. With the San Jose net empty, Alex Ovechkin put the game on ice with an ENG for his 14th tally of the season. Alas, this goal came four seconds before the McNugget Minute began. But no matter, Caps win 4-0 and Samsonov records his second consecutive shutout.

Up next for the Caps: their first game against the Seattle Kraken, tomorrow night at Climate Pledge Arena, 9pm EST.