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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

row.

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

bulge.

"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.

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

down."

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."

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