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Capitals vs. Sharks Recap: Caps Are Shark Bait in 4-1 San Jose Win

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The last time the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks met was on November 20 when Ilya Samsonov shut out the Sharks and both Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary scored two goals. Fingers crossed for a repeat of that performance, right?

Washington’s lines looked a little something like this in warmups:

This is Ilya Samsonov’s first appearance in net since January 16th’s 4-2 loss to the Canucks; Vitek Vanecek has started the last four Capitals games. Also of note: Daniel Sprong is in, Connor McMichael is out. The takes on Caps Twitter about this choice were Spicy™, folks.

Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Benching Daniel Sprong clearly pushed some buttons for the forward, and he rejoined the lineup tonight with a bit more pep in his step. He finished the game with one goal on four shots, and he helped drive play all night.

Minus: When the Caps were on, they were putting good pressure on the Sharks. However, they spent the majority of tonight in “Off Mode” and looked lifeless.

And now this:

Ten more notes on the game:

1. The Sharks got the first goal of the game 7:41 after the opening faceoff with Brent Burns capitalizing on a turnover from Dmitry Orlov to get the play started. Burns threw the puck to the front of the net past Garnet Hathaway, and Noah Gregor tapped it in. This is Gregor’s first goal in 20 games, 

2. Halfway through the first period, the Sharks were outshooting the Capitals 12-2, with Washington’s two shots coming from Tom Wilson and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Woof. The Caps did make a push at the end of the first to bring their shot count to 8, but this is now four straight periods without a goal for Washington.

3. After the Caps wasted a 3-on-2 rush at one end of the ice, Nicolas Meloche gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 3:58 of the second period with his first NHL goal. His shot from the high slot was an absolute snipe past Samsonov, who was screened a bit by a falling Michal Kempny.

4. Tomas Hertl took a high-sticking penalty just under a minute after Meloche’s goal, sending the Capitals to the first power play of the game. The Caps’ man-advantage did not look terrible this go around, but it remained predictable and scoreless.

5. The Sharks went shorthanded again with 7:01 to go in the first when Jonathan Dahlen got dinged for slashing Michal Kempny. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the Capitals’ power play failed to score again. About 30 seconds after Dahlen’s penalty expired, Dmitry Orlov took Washington’s first trip to the box after a holding penalty on Logan Couture. The best chance during the Shark’s power play actually came from Tom Wilson on a Caps’ 3-on-2 rush. It was a beautiful play from Wilson, but a better save from Reimer.

6. Daniel Sprong finally got the Capitals on the board just 14 seconds into the third period. Nicklas Backstrom won the faceoff to the right of Reimer cleanly and fed the puck to Sprong, who roofed it short side to the top corner of the net. Fun fact: this was the Capitals first goal in 100:14, going back to Backstrom’s OT winner against the Senators on Sunday. The fact that it came from Daniel Sprong, who had been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games, is a bit entertaining. Additionally, with the assist on the tally, Backstrom now has points in eight of his 11 games this season.

7. San Jose took a delay of game penalty for sending the puck over the glass with 6:41 left in the third, putting the Capitals on another dreaded power play with the opportunity to tie the game. Ilya Samsonov had to make an incredible save after Matt Nieto got a shorthanded breakaway chance about halfway through the power play, and that was the most exciting thing that happened. The Caps did generate more chances on this man advantage, but could not convert on any of them.

8. Timo Meier knocked Alex Ovechkin right into Ilya Samsonov with 4:22 to go, and it looked like Samsonov was down in some serious pain. This would not have been surprising, as the collision was a big one. Trainer Jason Serbus came out to check on Samsonov, and he was thankfully good to go after a few minutes.

9. About 90 seconds after that collision, Jonathan Dahlen restored San Jose’s two-goal lead with a shot fired from the right circle between Martin Fehervary’s legs. The puck just squeaked by Samsonov, who will definitely want that one back. Sharks up 3-1 with 3:09 to go.

10. The Caps pulled Samsonov shortly after Dahlen’s goal and then called a timeout with one minute to go, but it was Andrew Cogliano who found the back of the net for an empty net tally. Sharks win 4-1.

Up next for the Caps: a date with Braden Holtby and the Stars in Dallas on Friday, 9pm EST.

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