Red-hot Capitals host struggling Sharks
WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks are going in different directions heading into their matchup Tuesday night in the nation's capital.
Washington has won five consecutive games after a 4-2 victory over Florida on Saturday night. T.J. Oshie scored twice — the second time he's done that in this young season — and Alex Ovechkin added two points.
Ovechkin has 11 points in his last nine games with goals in six of his last nine contests as the Washington offense continue light up the scoreboard. Goalie Braden Holtby also has won four in a row, and those are big reasons why coach Barry Trotz doesn't want to adjust too many things.
“We've won five in a row here, just like any creature of habit, when things aren't broken, you don't want to fix them too much,” Trotz said. “We're 11 games into it or something like that. When we're consistent right through the lineup, and everybody's on the same page, there's not too many teams in the league that I think that will hang for 60 with us.”
Ovechkin said he likes the way the team is playing in the early part of this season.
“We play with confidence,” Ovechkin said. “We have to manage our speed and manage our game. In the future, it's going to pay off.”
San Jose, meanwhile, is trying to turn things around. The defending Western Conference champions have gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season.
San Jose (6-6-0) comes into Washington on a three-game losing streak — which follows a three-game winning streak.
Offense has been an issue at times as the Sharks scored only four times in those three games, the last being a 5-0 shutout at home versus the Pittsburgh Penguins in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup final.
“(If you) lose 5-0, it's not bounces or anything, you're just not good enough,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said to the media after Saturday's game. “It's tough, it's not any fun. We have to be a lot better than we were tonight.”
Pavelski leads the team with 12 points (four goals, eight assists). Brent Burns is second with 11 (four goals, seven assists).
They've had issues at times on the power play, something that hurt them in the Pittsburgh loss. The Sharks had eight shots on goal during their first three power-plays in that game and gave up a short-handed goal on the next one.
“Power plays have to strike when it has a chance to keep games closer, and we haven't done that enough,” Pavelski said. “We feel like we're right there, at the same time it feels like there's a long way to go.”
The Sharks made one move Monday, calling up 20-year old Kevin Labanc from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League. He was leading the Barracuda with 10 points and four goals during the first six games — which started his pro career.
The Washington contest starts a season-high six-game road trip that will take the Sharks around the country. They'll play Washington, Tampa, Florida, Carolina, St. Louis and Arizona, staying on the road until a Nov. 21 matchup with New Jersey, the beginning of a five-game homestand.