SAN JOSE, Calif. – Whether it’s luck that comes from a puck ricocheting off a defender’s pads, the end boards and the goalie’s skate for one goal or a sterling pass that led to another, the Sharks seem to have a hex over the Washington Capitals in San Jose.
Patrick Marleau scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period off a nifty, no-look pass from Joe Thornton and the Sharks got goals from three defencemen to beat the Capitals 5-2 Saturday night, extending their home unbeaten streak over Washington to 12 games.
“I think every team has that one building or rink or team that for some reason, it just doesn’t go right,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “Whether Washington’s is at San Jose, I don’t know.”
It sure does seem that way.
Since winning their first game ever at the Shark Tank in October 1993, the Capitals have gone winless here ever since, losing 11 games and tying one while getting outscored 46-23.
Washington hoped new goalie Tomas Vokoun would change their fortunes here, based on his 10-0-1 career record against San Jose coming into the game. But he had no chance on Marleau’s goal that came just 16 seconds after Ward tied the score in the opening minute of the third period.
“We didn’t take care of the puck enough,” Vokoun said. “When you give up a goal like that in the third, right after we tie it, it’s tough.”
Thornton took a feed from Dan Boyle at the point and while skating away from the net, left a blind, backhanded pass for Marleau, who knocked the puck in for his 15th goal to make it 3-2. Marleau also had two assists on the night.
“Dan made a great play to see me and Patty just gave a little scream so I knew where he was,” Thornton said. “Patty just talking made that all happen.”
Defencemen Jason Demers, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for the Sharks and Torrey Mitchell added an empty-netter to seal San Jose’s fourth straight win overall.
Dennis Wideman and Joel Ward scored for the Capitals, who had their four-game winning streak snapped with another loss at the Shark Tank.
Antti Niemi made sure the lead stood up, making a spectacular pad save to rob Ward, who was all alone in front of the net about 5 minutes into the third period. Niemi finished with 28 saves.
The Sharks then extended the lead after an advantageous trade off of minor penalties. Brad Winchester got called for charging Alexander Semin and Capitals star Alex Ovechkin immediately responded by knocking the San Jose enforcer to the ice for a roughing call.
“He fell. I fell. It looked like I dropped him,” Ovechkin said. “I think it was a clean hit but maybe he took a couple of extra steps. I’m just trying to look out for a teammate.”
Ovechkin had a minus-3 rating for the night and had his seven-game point streak snapped.
With both players off, Vlasic took a pass from Ryane Clowe and put a backhand on net that was stopped by Vokoun. But Vlasic kept knocking at the puck and got one past Vokoun to make it 4-2.
After a first period with few scoring chances, play picked up almost from the start of the second. San Jose benefited from a fortuitous bounce off the new, livelier boards for the first goal of the game.
Demers’ point shot went wide after hitting a defenceman’s pads, hit the end boards, bounced into the crease, off Vokoun’s skate and into the net for his second goal of the season.
“I have to thank the arena guys and the ownership for putting those in,” Demers said. “I just got a lucky bounce and it ping-ponged its way in there.”
The teams then traded power-play goals later in the period with Wideman rushing on from the point to knock a one-timer off a feed from Troy Brouwer from behind the net to tie the game for Washington.
The Sharks answered with Wideman in the box late in the period for high-sticking Benn Ferriero. With just 8.2 seconds left in the period, Burns’ shot from the point went over Vokoun’s pad and just inside the post for his seventh goal of the season.
NOTES: Washington D Mike Green, who missed 29 games earlier this season with a sprained right ankle and then a groin injury, left midway throughthe second period when his groin tightened up. … San Jose got goals from three defencemen for the first time since Nov. 1, 2009, at Carolina. … The Capitals were without their leading scorer, Nicklas Backstrom, who took an elbow to the head from Calgary’s Rene Bourque on Tuesday.