The Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks meet for the second time this season when they meet at SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday afternoon. The Capitals took the first game against the Sharks 4-1 on December 4 at Capital One Arena. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Washington at 4 PM.
The Capitals have dropped the first two games of their California road trip, losing 4-0 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. The Capitals will avoid going pointless on their California road trip for the second straight year. The Capitals have also lost their past two visits to the shark tank, allowing nine goals in that span.
SAP Center has never been kind to the Capitals. The Capitals have not won in regulation in San Jose since 1994 and have an all-time record of 5-13-1 visiting the Sharks. The Capitals last won in San Jose 5-4 on February 11, 2015, but that was in overtime; the Capitals also won 3-2 in a shootout there on March 22, 2014.
The Capitals enter Saturday’s matinee a point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with a game in hand. The Toronto Maple Leafs entertain the Penguins Saturday night at the ACC. The Flyers are two points behind the Capitals and host the Winnipeg Jets, who the Capitals will host in their first game back from the California road trip on Monday, on Saturday. The Capitals hold a game in hand on the Flyers as well.
The Capitals have not won on the road since February 19, a 3-2 win at First Niagra Center against the Buffalo Sabres. They have lost four straight in regulation on the road and have gone 3-6-1 on the road since the All-Star break. They look to end their road skid on Saturday afternoon.
Captain Alex Ovechkin still sits at 598 career goals and has not scored the past two games after scoring nine goals and 19 points in his previous 15 games. He sits a goal ahead of Jets’ winger Patrik Laine (39) for the league lead. In his career against San Jose, Ovechkin has tallied eight goals and 14 points in 17 career games and has scored three goals and seven points in his last six games against the Sharks.
Philipp Grubauer will likely get the nod in net after making 26 saves on 28 shots in the Capitals’ 3-1 loss to the Kings on Thursday, his first in his past five appearances. He is 8-8-3 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 goals against average this season. In three career games against the Sharks, he is 1-1-1 with a .926 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average. He made 24 saves in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Sharks on December 4.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks sit one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks for the second spot in the Pacific Division standings with a game in hand. They hold a 20-10-3 record at the Shark Tank this season and are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games.
The Sharks play the fifth game of a season-long six-game homestand against the Capitals on Saturday. They have won three of the four games they have played on their homestand with their lone loss coming Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, falling 4-2. The Sharks most recently beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Thursday night.
Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each have 53 points, good for the best on San Jose. After only tallying eight points (all assists) and having a -5 rating in the Sharks’ first 19 games, Burns has gotten back to the Burns that won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman last season. He has 10 goals and 35 assists in 48 games since his slow start but has a -18 rating, the worst on the Sharks and tied for the 21st worst in the league. Pavelski has been hot as of late, tallying three goals and seven points in his past four games.
The Sharks give up 2.7 goals per game, good for eight in the league, and have the league’s best penalty kill, which converts at an 84.7% success rate. Their offensive numbers are in the middle of the pack, sitting 15th in the league with an average of 2.9 goals per game but scoring at a 21.1% rate on the power play, good for the eighth best unit in the league.
The Sharks reeled in one of the top players on the market at the NHL Trade Deadline about a week and a half ago in Evander Kane. The 26-year old left winger has one goal and five points in four games since joining the Sharks and 21 goals and 45 points in 65 games this season. The pending unrestricted free agent had three goals in two games against Washington in a Buffalo Sabres’ uniform this season. In exchange for Kane, the Sharks traded a conditional 2019 first round pick, a conditional 2020 fourth round pick, and forward Daniel O’Reagan to the Sabres.
The Sharks also acquired former-Capital center Eric Fehr from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round draft pick. Fehr has one assist in 10 games with San Jose.
Martin Jones will start for San Jose. Jones is 22-17-6 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.49 goals against average this season. Lifetime against the Capitals, Jones is 4-1-0 with a .941 save percentage and a 1.60 goals against average. He had two consecutive shutouts at Capital One Arena before allowing four goals on 29 shots against the Capitals back on December 4.
–T.J. Oshie has recorded three assists in his last five games and is one assist shy of his career-high with the Capitals (25 in 2015-16)
-Since January 25, the Capitals have a 29.2% power play efficiency, the best in the NHL during that span. Nine different Capitals have recorded a power-play point in that span with John Carlson leading the team with eight (one goal, seven assists)
–Jay Beagle has won 43 of his last 57 faceoffs (79.63%), including 28 out of 36 in the defensive zone (77.7%) and five out of six shorthanded (83.3%) Beagle ranks fifth among NHL players with at least 1,000 draws in face-off percentage (1,700 wins on 2,976 draws, 57.12%).
A Look Back in Time
After Jay Beagle struck in the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, Brent Burns struck twice in 22 seconds in the first 43 seconds of the second period to give the Sharks the lead. Troy Brouwer tied the game at two on the power play before Sharks’ center Logan Couture gave San Jose their lead back with 5:12 remaining in the middle frame. Beagle and John Carlson would each strike 2:09 apart to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead with 6:34 remaining in the game before Sharks center Joe Thornton tied the game at four with a minute and three seconds later. In the extra frame, current Shark Joel Ward scored the game-winner in overtime for the Capitals in a wild 5-4 affair. Beagle would add an assist on Ward’s game-winning goal for his career high three-point night. That was the last Capitals’ win at the Shark Tank back on February 11, 2015.
By Harrison Brown