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Officials ruin Nabokov's night
Sharks fall in overtime to Capitals and Zebras
2/11/15 - By Mike Lee -

When things begin to spiral out of control in the NHL, you find new ways to lose. The Sharks lost in the most painful fashion on Wednesday night, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Washington Capitals. The Capitals literally used the on-ice officials to their advantage, scoring a game-tying goal in the 3rd period, and then again in overtime to steal 2 points from a Sharks team that has dropped 5-of-6.

Holding a 3-2 lead in the 3rd, the sharks fell victim to one of those plays you might see once in a decade. Capitals defenseman Jon Carlson sent a pass up the right wing to centerman Jay Beagle, who clearly had control of the puck at the red line. Linesman Lonnie Cameron felt the need to wave off icing, even though Beagle had the puck before even crossing the Sharks blueline.

As Cameron extended his arms, he also elected to peel away from the boards as to provide Beagle with a path to the net. In doing so, Cameron cut off Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller, throwing a perfect pick for Beagle, who waltzed on goal and slipped a shot past Antti Niemi.

Cameron coasted at center ice with his head pointing to the rafters, knowing his botched positioning had cost the Sharks a goal.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was typically sympathetic to Cameron's plight.

"We know that the linesman isn't stepping in there intentionally," McLellan said. "There's nothing that anyone can do about it to review it or change the outcome of the goal. We have to live with it."

Beagle's goal provided the Capitals with a spark that allowed them to then take a 4-1 lead 2 minutes later. James Sheppard coughed up the puck in his own zone along the left wing boards. Marcus Johansson scooped up the giveaway and sent a pass to the off wig through the slot where Carlson pinched and fired a shot that beat Niemi just inside the right post with 6 minutes and change left in regulation.

Joe Thornton tied the game with a shot from the right side a minute later to reset the scoring. Thornton walked in on Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and whipped a wrist shot through a small opening inside the right post for his 12th goal of the season.

Referees Brad Meier and Rob Martell got into the game influencers act in the overtime period when Joel Ward tripped Shark defenseman Scott Hannan in the neutral zone. Meier and Martell kept their whistles tucked away as Ward, Beagle and Mike Green gained the Sharks zone in an odd-man rush. Green bounced a shot off Niemi's pad, but Ward was there to swat the puck home for the game winner.

Several Sharks swarmed the officials in protest, but neither referee was about to admit to a mistake. Given the 4-on-4 format in the overtime, the trip on a defenseman turned into a game winning advantage that went unpunished.

The outcome was unfortunate given the Sharks predicament over the last 6 games. Add to the fact that they played stellar hockey in the 2nd period added to the painful outcome.

Even Beagle seemed to realize his team received a gift.

"From the start of that shift we lost that draw, Holtby made two huge saves on Burns," Beagle started. "Then we transitioned off the rebound and Ward cut through the middle. Then they clipped skates, one guy goes down and it was kind of a three-on-one."

San Jose scored 3 goals in that middle period. Brent Burns scored a pair of goals in a 22 second span to turn a 1-0 Capitals lead into a 2-1 deficit. Joe Pavelski parked himself in front of Holtby as a Eric Fehr hooking penalty carried over from the opening period. Burns fired a shot from the point that evaded Holtby, aided by Pavelski's screen.

Burns made it 2-1 on the next shift, ripping another shot from the slot that slipped past Holtby as Logan Couture created a distraction at the top of the Capitals crease.

Troy Brouwer scored a power play goal at 6:17 of the period after Pavelski was sent off for high sticking. Brouwer tipped in an Alex Ovechkin shot from the left side.

The goal left Brouwer an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Brouwer mixed it up with Brendan Dillon midway through the 1st period after taking a hack at Niemi during a Capitals power play. Brouwer leveled Dillon with a left that toppled the Sharks defenseman like a ton of bricks.

Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead later in the period by sweeping behind the back of the Capitals net and tucking a wrap-around chance inside the right post for his 20th goal of the season.

"We thought we were doing a lot of good things--playing hard, we had a lot of zone time, some good looks," said Pavelski. "We stayed with it, found a way to battle back. It was good to see that there wasn't any dip to our game."

The loss also put a damper on what should have been a more festive evening. The Sharks started the day by hosting a press conference to announce the retirement of long time goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov gave a short but emotional set of comments thanking the organization, teammates and the fans.

San Jose acquired the rights to Nabokov on Monday, with the intent of holding the press conference so that Nabokov could retire as a Shark. Nabokov received a rousing standing ovation as he walked to center ice before the game to drop the ceremonial opening faceoff puck.

Unlike the days when Nabokov roamed the crease, SAP Center was less than capacity for the tribute to Nabokov. The 16,956 announced attendance was the smallest crowd to attend a Sharks game since 2006. Many of those in attendance bolted for the exits when Washington grabbed their 4-3 lead, leaving the stadium pocked with large blocks of empty seats.


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1 2 3 OT T
WAS 1 1 2 1 5
SJ 0 3 1 0 4
1st period - 1, WAS, Beagle 8 (Orpik, Latta), 15:02.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Burns 13 (Thornton, Couture), 0:21, (pp). 3, SJ, Burns 14 (Marleau, Nieto), 0:43. 4, WAS, Brouwer 16 (Ovechkin, Backstrom), 6:17, (pp). 5, SJ, Couture 20 (Nieto, Marleau), 14:48.
3rd period - 6, WAS, Beagle 9 (Carlson, Orpik), 11:17. 7, WAS, Carlson 7 (Johansson, Backstrom), 13:26. 8, SJ, Thornton 12 (Pavelski, Karlsson), 14:29.
Overtime - 9, WAS, Ward 12 (Green, Beagle), 2:42.
1st period - Irwin, SJ (elbowing), 12:06; Brouwer, WAS (fighting major), 13:11; Dillon, SJ (fighting major), 13:11; Fehr, WAS (hooking), 19:00.
2nd period - Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 5:05.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
WAS - Holtby 30 26
SJ - Niemi 33 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
WAS 10 13 7 3 33
SJ 6 13 10 1 30
Power Play Conversion
WAS 1 of 2
SJ 1 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Jay Beagle
Brent Burns
Jon Carlsson
Referees: Meier, Martell. Linesmen: Cameron, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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