Clowe helps Sharks trounce Capitals

By Michael Duca
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) — A five-day break did not slow
the San Jose Sharks’ momentum one bit.

Ryane Clowe scored two goals, Rob Blake recorded four assists
and fellow defenseman Dan Boyle set up three tallies as the
Sharks continued their dominance at home with a 7-2 thrashing of
the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Captain Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton and
blue-liner Marc-Edouard Vlasic each had a goal and an assist,
while Mike Grier netted a late tally in his return to the lineup
from a lower body injury as the Sharks improved to 11-0-1 at
home and 19-0-2 in their last 21 contests at HP Pavilion dating
back to last season.

“The back end had a lot of points tonight,” Vlasic said.

Defenseman Tom Poti and Tomas Fleischmann scored for the
Capitals, who have matched the second-best record through 20
games (11-6-3) in franchise history despite having lost two in a

Alex Ovechkin extended his points streak to seven games with an
assist but was not able to lift Washington’s offensive unit,
which is hampered by the injuries of Alexander Semin and
blue-liner Mike Green but got back Sergei Fedorov from an ankle
ailment in this one.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy with the play of top
line, including Ovechkin.

“(Ovechkin) really struggled,” Boudreau said. “He gave the puck
away just before their power-play goal, and he gave it away a
couple of times before that. The biggest thing, you need your
best players to be your best players. I did not think our best
players were our best players tonight.”

The Sharks entered leading the NHL with 37.9 shots per game, but
they went for quality, not quantity, in this one. Washington
held San Jose to just five shots in the first 16 minutes of the
game, but three of those beat goaltender Brent Johnson for a 3-0

“The guys were placing shots tonight,” Thornton said. “We
thought we (were going) to start slow tonight because,
obviously, we haven’t had many five-day breaks. We wanted to
start fast. Every time we shot, we made it count. It was a
good start for us.”

Marleau opened the scoring 9:13 into the session and Clowe
followed less than 3 1/2 minutes later with a wrist shot from in
front of the crease. San Jose exposed Johnson once again with
4:15 remaining as Setoguchi buried a slap shot from the right
faceoff circle after receiving a backhand pass from Thornton.

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Still, Sharks coach Todd McLellan was not pleased with his
team’s play early on.

“I thought the first half of the game, we were sluggish and
didn’t skate well,” he said. “We definitely were not the best
team the first 30 minutes, but we finally got our legs, began to
skate and get moving. We were fortunate to be up when we were
trying to find it.”

Poti cut the deficit to 3-1 when he tapped in Matt Bradley’s
rebound while on the doorstep eight minutes into the second.

San Jose recaptured its three-goal lead with 7:41 left in the
session. With Washington’s Michael Nylander in the penalty box
for holding, Thornton’s wrist shot from the right circle got
past Johnson, who was being screened by Setoguchi.

“We knew we needed the next one when they closed to 3-1,” Vlasic
said. “If they got the next one, they would have had the
momentum. With the offensive power they have, it would have
been dangerous. We got the next two, which kind of shut them

Vlasic netted his second goal of the season with 33 seconds
remaining in the second to further support goaltender Brian
Boucher, who made 19 saves in his seventh straight start in
place of Evgeni Nabokov. The native of Kazakhstan had been
sidelined with a lower body injury but dressed as the backup in
this one.

“At 5-1, they had their forwards just looking for a breakaway,”
Vlasic said. “That’s when you know the game’s not over, but
they had kind of given up.”

Fleischmann converted a man-advantage chance at 2:19 of the
third, but Clowe responded with a power-play goal of his own 3
1/2 minutes later.

“We try to simplify our game,” Boudreau said. “Not have long
passes that can create those easy turnovers when you have a good
trapping team in the neutral zone. We can’t go out there and
make them make the passes.”

Grier capped the scoring by taking a cross-ice pass from Jeremy
Roenick and firing a wrister past Johnson with 53 seconds left
in the game.

“The Sharks are real good right now,” Boudreau said. “They are
very opportunistic, a team you can not make a mistake against.
If you make a mistake, it’s in the net.”