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The Washington Capitals shook off some heavy woes in one game. They snapped a four game losing skid and stopped a San Jose Shark team at 11 straight wins by defeating them 4-1. In their first visit to Verizon Center since Feburary 21, 2007, the Sharks couldn't solve the Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of second period goals just :28 seconds apart. The fastest two goals of his career. Alex Semin scored a power play goal, much needed goal for a PP squad that has not been producing. Matt Bradley goal was icing on the cake as the Caps seemed to have put together a complete 60 minute game to put away a Western Conference foe.
The Caps got off to a quick start as the Sharks got into some penalty trouble early. Called for three straight minor penalties, San Jose gave the Caps nearly 5 straight minutes with a man or two man advantage. The Caps were able to take advantage on a 5 on 3 when Nick Backstrom fed a pass to a waiting Semin across ice. The Caps have struggled scoring with the extra man, scoring only 3 goals in the last 22 power play opportunities in their last three losses.
The Sharks were able to tie the game late in the period when Eric Fehr couldn't cover his man. Jose Theodore had a strong start, but an earlier play in when Ryan Clowe fell on him and injured the goaltender. Later when the Sharks were breaking down the ice, Theo did not step out to take the shot and the puck sailed over his shoulder and the period ended in a 1-1 tie. Semyon Varlamov took over in the second period as Theodore left the game with back spasms and did not return. He is listed day-to-day.
The Caps also took the lead in the second when Alex Ovechkin scored twice less than :30 seconds. Ovi was lined up with Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison for the first time in the season. The trio would connect for both goals with Ovechkin driving to the net. Bradley added the clincher in the third period as the Caps shut down the Sharks potent offense.
In only the seventh game of the season the Capitals have faced six teams that were in the playoffs last season, four of them division champions. Of the four division champs (Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks) the Capitals had a 2-1-1 record and earned 5 of 8 possible points. In the two losses, one a shoot out loss and the other a loss in regulation, the Capitals have only lost those games by one goal. The Caps also had the lead and/or scored the first goal in each of the four games.
There is certainly some relief for the Capitals coming out of this one with a win. Even if the Sharks looked a bit travel weary in this one, the Caps did hold the to 8 shots in the second period and 7 shots in the third. Varlamov would step in for the injured Theodore and come away with the win stopping all 15 shots he faced.
- The Caps had to deal with injury issues. John Erskine (IR, upper body injury), Boyd Gordon (day-to-day, back spasms) and now Jose Theodore (day-to-day, back spasms). Keith Aucoin was recalled from Hershey to replace Gordon and played on the third line with Fehr and Chris Clark. Tom Poti took a stick up high on a follow through on a shot. He left the game shortly to get stitches and returned to the line up soon after.
- David Steckel was a monster in the face off circle. At one point he was a perfect 7 for 7 on draws, and would end up winning 75% of his face off battles (12-4). The Capitals as a whole were only 48% in face offs.
- Mike Green was 2:01 short of logging 30:00 of ice time (27:59). Green spent over ten minutes in the first period due to the Sharks' penalty woes. He finished the night with an assist and three shots on net.