Sharks 5, Capitals 2
Joe Thornton had an unusual decision to make when he prepared
for his penalty shot in the third period. Having watched teammate
Ryane Clowe already convert a penalty shot with a backhander,
Thornton figured he needed to try a different tact.
“I was thinking of going to the backhand but Clowe kind of
perfected that earlier,” Thornton said. “So I thought I’d go with
the shot and see what I could do.”
Thornton delivered, making San Jose the first team in more than
27 years to score on two penalty shots in a game. The Sharks went
on to beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 Wednesday night.
“It’s kind of strange having two in one game,” Thornton said.
“I’m not sure the last time that happened.”
It hadn’t happened since Feb. 11, 1982, when Thomas Gradin and
Ivan Hlinka converted for Vancouver in Detroit.
That Clowe and Thornton managed to do it could be somewhat
surprising considering their records in shootouts. Thornton has
missed both shootout attempts this season, while Clowe has made
just one of five.
“It was nice to see both of them score,” coach Todd McLellan
said. “Maybe we should find a way to do that in the shootout a
little bit more often.”
The highly anticipated matchup between division leaders featured
four of the top 10 scorers this season and three of top six
goalscorers. But it proved to be a mismatch on the ice.
The Sharks overwhelmed Washington in the first period and took
control with a pair of goals in a 75-second span, got stellar
goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov to hold off the Capitals in the
second and coasted to their the win in the third period.
The victory was San Jose’s seventh straight at home against the
Capitals, who haven’t won in San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993. They
have lost nine games and tied one since then.
“We tried to be so cute tonight it was just killing us,”
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin said. “It can’t happen again. When
they get the lead 2-0, you have to score. This is a hard building
to play in, especially in the first period, they come on hard. The
first period here is hard to breath and you just have to get used
Joe Pavelski scored two goals and Torry Mitchell also scored for
San Jose. Nabokov made 24 saves, allowing third-period goals to
Ovechkin and Mike Knuble.
The game capped a memorable day for the Sharks. Earlier, five
members of the team found out they would be playing in the
Olympics. Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle
were picked for the Canadian team and backup goalie Thomas Greiss
was chosen for Germany.
Thornton scored his 11th goal on the penalty shot in the third
period. Jon Erskine got called for the penalty when he lost his
stick while diving at Thornton’s legs from behind on a breakaway.
Thornton then beat Michal Neuvirth for the goal.
“I don’t think I threw my stick,” Erskine said. “It’s not
like something you do as a novice or 6 years old. But he made the
call and there’s nothing you can do about it. I was trying to get
the puck and the way I was going after him – my stick hit him and
it flew out.”
Clowe converted on his penalty shot late in the second, marking
the first time in team history the Sharks have scored two penalty
shot goals in a game. Clowe got his when he took control of a loose
puck as he came out of the penalty box and was taken down by a
sliding Mike Green. Clowe then beat Neuvirth with a backhand to
make it 3-0.
“I went back to the well and went to the backhand,” Clowe
said. “He’s a young goalie, so he probably hasn’t watched any
highlights. So I figured I’d go back and stick with what usually
Nabokov shut down Olympic teammates Ovechkin and Alexander Semin
and the rest of the Capitals until the Sharks had the game under
control in the third. Ovechkin finally broke through with his 26th
goal with a big shot off a face off midway through the third that
cut San Jose’s lead to 5-2.
Semin got good chances in the second but was robbed by a glove
save and stopped on a 2-on-1 a few minutes later. Nabokov helped
San Jose kill four penalties in the second, including a two-man
advantage for 50 seconds.
The Sharks controlled the first period, outshooting the Capitals
13-3 and taking a 2-0 lead. It was a stark difference from the
first meeting between the teams in October when the Capitals had 17
shots in the first period and won 4-1.
“It wasn’t even close the first time around,” Boyle said.
“They were by far the much better team. Tonight we had our legs a
little bit. We had a few letdowns but overall it was a good
NOTES: Jason Chimera made his debut for Washington, two days
after being acquired from Columbus in a trade for Chris Clark and
Milan Jurcina. Chimera assisted on Knuble’s goal. … Mitchell’s
goal was his first since Feb. 27, 2008.