Washington (11-5-3) at San Jose (16-3-1), 10:30pm EST
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) — As the Washington Capitals look
to regain the winning touch on their five-game road trip, they
couldn’t be facing a tougher opponent.
The Southeast Division leaders travel to San Jose on Saturday to
take on the Sharks, who have been practically unbeatable at
home. In fact, the only blemish on their home mark this season
was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators last week.
Overall, they have not dropped a regulation game at the HP
Pavilion during the regular season since February 14, 2008 – a
3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. In the 20 home games since,
they have racked up an 18-0-2 record.
Of course, this year’s Sharks have been hard to stop regardless
of the venue. They lead the league with 33 points and 71 goals.
Left wing Patrick Marleau and right wing Devin Setoguchi pave
the way with 22 points apiece, while former Hart Trophy winner
Joe Thornton has chipped in with four goals and 16 assists.
San Jose has won three games in a row, posting 16 goals during
that span. Most recently, the Sharks got revenge for their
earlier home loss to the Predators, scoring a pair of
first-period goals in an 87-second span en route to a 4-1
victory on Monday. That came just one night after a wild 6-5
triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks during which they scored
four power-play goals – including two by defenseman Dan Boyle.
Already a nearly unstoppable force, the Sharks will officially
get stronger as goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is expected to return.
The 33-year-old Russian has missed the last six games with an
undisclosed lower body injury but appears ready to play. He is
10-2-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average.
The Capitals are no slouches, either. They are the
second-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference, thanks in
large part to star left wings Alexander Ovechkin (eight goals,
15 assists) and Alexander Semin (13 goals, 14 assists).
However, Semin has missed the last three games with a strained
shoulder and upper back and he is not expected to play Saturday,
according to the Washington Post.