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Bad bounces doom Sharks
Cruel outcome for unlucky San Jose
3/22/14 - By Mike Lee -

The 2013-14 season continues to be a season a head scratcher for the Sharks. After knocking off division rival Anaheim Ducks on Thursday with one of their best performances of the year, they fell victim to some unlucky deflections that kept finding their goal on Saturday night. The Washington Capitals were ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference entering Saturday night's contest, but squeezed a shootout win after scoring a pair of crazy goals that were simply puck-luck goals.

* The Capitals didn't exactly bring their A game to SAP Center, but it was enough to knock off a disinterested Sharks squad. The Sharks actually put four pucks past goaltenders throughout the course of the evening, but two of them came against their own netminder, Antti Niemi.

* Eric Fehr was the benefactor of a Justin Braun clearing attempt that hit Matt Nieto in the shin pad and deflected into his own net. Braun had time to skate the puck away from his own net, but elected to sweep it clear. Problem is, Nieto was skating back up the slot toward his own net. Nieto was a good 15 feet away from the net, but Braun put so much juice on the puck that it traveled the distance before goaltender Antti Niemi could do anything in response.

* The Sharks didn't do much offensively in the opening period, but Patrick Marleau knotted the game at 1.1 with just 5.6 seconds left in the frame. Nieto tried a wrap-around attempt from the right side, but the puck pin-balled out in front of the crease where Marleau was parked to clean up for his 30th goal of the season.

* San Jose enjoyed a pair of power play chances during the first half of the 2nd period, but as has been the case in 2014, the special teams unit failed to deliver. The Sharks put 16 shots on Braden Holtby, but could not generate anything that got past the Capitals netminder.

* James Sheppard put the Sharks up 2-1 5:07 into the 3rd period, after a Jason Chimera pass deflected out of the Sharks zone, as the Sharks forward sprinted past two Capitals defenders. Sheppard raced up ice, faked right, then slid a shot through Holtby's pads for his 3rd goal of the season.

* If the Capitals first goal wasn't bad enough, the hockey gods elected to torment Sharks fans with a crazy double deflection that allowed Washington to crawl back into the game. Centerman Chris Brown threw a puck on net that untouched would have ended up in the right corner, but instead it hit Nieto in the slot. The puck veered left, hit defenseman Dan Boyle in the chest, deflecting it a second time. That second time put it on a trajectory for the goal opening. There was nothing Niemi could do but wonder what he did to deserve such an unfair outcome. The goal was Brown's 1st in the NHL.

* Alex Ovechkin handed the Sharks a great opportunity to end things in regulation by clipping Marc-Edouard Vlasic with a high stick to earn a trip to the penalty box with 2:18 left in the 3rd period. The Sharks tried to get cute with the man-advantage, working the puck around the perimeter without actually putting any shots on Holtby. The power play failure was almost expected.

* The Caps owned the overtime, outshooting the Sharks 5-0 in the extra frame. Only Niemi kept San Jose in the game, by stopping everything Washington threw at him in the 5 minute extension.

* Holtby handled a pair of meek attempts by Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski in the shootout. Evgeny Kuznetsov put his opening round chance past Niemi, but Marleau matched him with the Sharks last chance. Niklas Backstrom ended things with a backhand chance that beat Niemi to the glove side.

Game Quotes:

Head Coach Todd McLellan: "We would have loved to have both points, but we've got to look at how we played, did we accomplish what we set out to do. Score wise, we didn't, but we did a lot of things that we talked about before the game. I thought we played pretty solid defensively against a pretty good offensive team. They like to run-and-gun and go after you. The goals were--it's puck luck, sometimes it doesn't go your way. It went off Nieto on the 1st one and Boyler on the 2nd, so there's not much we can do about it."

McLellan: "I thought the power play was sharp. We had six minutes of power play time. We created eleven real good attempts on the goaltender, got the puck back. I look at their power play, it's number one in the league, and they had the same six minutes, and we were able to penalty kill real well against them."

James Sheppard: "They got a couple lucky goals. I mean, those bounces, you don't see too often, especially two in one game. Sometimes that happens, but I think we had some chances. We're good enough to get more and take advantage of them. So, just kind of unlucky, but we still have to push forward."

Matt Nieto: "As for the bounces, those are unfortunate. Those kind of things happen so fast, you can't really react to them. I thought we played solid. Obviously, there are things we could have done better. But they didn't give up--they kept coming and coming, and we unfortunately lost."

Eric Fehr: "I definitely think the size helps and some speed but I think it's also an anticipation that really gets us the step ahead. We're reading the play really well right now and really reading off each other and aggressive on the other teams D (defense) which is causing a lot of havoc and a lot of turnovers."


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1 2 3 OT SO T
WAS 1 0 1 0 1 3
SJ 1 0 1 0 0 2
1st period - 1, WAS, Fehr 12 (unassisted), 11:25. 2, SJ, Marleau 30 (Couture, Nieto), 19:54.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Sheppard 3 (unassisted), 5:07. 4, WAS, Brown 1 (Penner, Wilson), 12:30.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Couture (miss), Pavelski (miss), Marleau (goal). WAS: Kuznetsov (goal), Fehr (miss), Backstrom (goal).
1st period - Havlat, SJ (tripping), 5:54.
2nd period - Wilson, WAS (holding), 4:25; Green, WAS (holding), 8:13; Brown, SJ (interference), 11:48; Vlasic, SJ (high sticking), 19:49.
3rd period - Ovechkin, WAS (high sticking), 17:42.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
WAS - Holtby 36 34
SJ - Niemi 25 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
WAS 6 6 8 5 25
SJ 9 16 11 0 36
Power Play Conversion
WAS 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Braden Holtby
James Sheppard
Patrick Marleau
Referees: VanMassenhoven, Devorski. Linesmen: Cormier, Lazarowich.
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