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Sharks top league's best
San Jose's special teams comes through in win
3/9/17 - By Mike Lee -

To say the Sharks special teams play has been a challenge this season would be an understatement. When they turn that challenge around against the best team in the NHL is a positive sign as the end of the regular season sits on the horizon. San Jose converted on 2 of 5 power play chances in their 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, and their special teams went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in an entertaining game at a sold out SAP Center.

The Sharks 23rd ranked power play unit has been in a spiral since November, but San Jose used a pair of Logan Couture goals to snap a 2-2 tie with the top ranked Capitals. Couture deflected a pair of pucks off Brent Burns feeds to snap that tie and propel the Sharks to their 7th win in their last 10 games.

With 16 games left in the regular season, the Sharks are hoping to turn their special teams issues upside down with the playoffs looming. San Jose looked like giant killers on Thursday night.

Washington had 5 chances on the power play themselves, but the Sharks denied the Capitals, spearheaded by Martin Jones, who made 25 saves, including a dozen shots in the opening period.

The Capitals grabbed the early lead on one of those shots when former Sharks rental Daniel Winnik scored 5:26 into the game. Jay Beagle setup Winnik with a backhand pass of the end boards from behind the goal. Winnik gathered the pass as he skated across the top of the crease from left to right, slipping a shot from the doorstep past Jones for his 9th goal of the season.

Trade deadline acquisition Jannick Hansen made his Sharks debut a memorable one, by setting up Joe Thornton with a pass from behind the Capitals goal 3 minutes later. Hansen grabbed a loose puck on the forecheck as he skated out of the right corner, before spotting Thornton cutting in on net from the left point. Thornton one timed a shot that beat Braden Holtby for his 6th goal of the season.

Brooke Orpik clipped Melker Karlsson with a high stick with 90 seconds remaining in the period, setting up a 4-minute Sharks power play. That power play would carry over to the start of the 2nd period where the Sharks used the remaining time to setup Joe Pavelski's 24th goal of the season.

Pavelski tipped a Burns shot past Holtby as he sat in the high slot. The goal was first scored as an even-strength goal, before being changed to a power play goal, only to be reverted back to the even strength variety.

The lead held for 12 minutes until Brett Connolly tipped a Kevin Shattenkirk feed past Jones on a give and go play at 14:40 of the period.

Couture went to work late in the period. Beagle put the Sharks on the power play after tripping Chris Tierney, and San Jose took all of 6 seconds to convert. After winning the faceoff, the Sharks kicked the puck to Burns on the left side for a shot attempt that Holtby stopped, but allowed a fat rebound out to the left circle. Couture pounced on the puck then used a partial screen by Burns to slip a wrist shot past the Capitals netminder.

Couture padded the Sharks lead to a pair of goals 8:05 into the 3rd period after Karl Alzner was sent off for tripping Pavelski. Burns was in on the goal, earning his 3rd assist of the night by sending a pass from the right point to the front of the left post where Couture was cutting in for the redirect.

The sellout crowd stayed to see if Couture would complete the hat trick, but Hansen missed a golden opportunity to set up his teammate after Holtby was pulled for an extra attacker. The new Shark elected to shoot the puck, bouncing it off the left post.

San Jose had no problem killing clock after Holtby vacated the net, sealing their 40th win of the season.

Game Notes:

* Joe Thornton was honored before the game with a ceremony that include his wife and two children. The Sharks presented Thornton with a magnum of wine and an original oil painting in celebration of his 1000th assist.

* The Sharks distributed commemorative pucks that honored Thornton's assist feat and Patrick Marleau's 500th career goal.

* Alex Ovechkin was the marquee guest, but the Sharks held him without a point. the Russian forward does not typically play well at SAP Center.

* David Schlemko was scratched after he suffered an apparent lower body injury in Monday's win in Winnipeg.


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1 2 3 T
WSH 1 1 0 2
SJ 1 2 1 4
1st period - 1, WSH, Winnik 9 (Beagle, Wilson), 5:26. 2, SJ, Thornton 6 (Hansen, Martin), 8:43.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Pavelski 24 (Burns, Thornton), 2:32. 4, WSH, Connolly 14 (Shattenkirk), 14:40. 5, SJ, Couture 22 (Burns, Marleau), 18:04, (pp).
3rd period - 6, SJ, Couture 23 (Burns, Pavelski), 8:05, (pp).
1st period - Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 3:18; Martin, SJ (holding), 12:40; Orpik, WSH (high stick - double minor), 18:32.
2nd period - Vlasic, SJ (hooking), 8:27; Beagle, WSH (tripping), 17:58; Karlsson, SJ (slashing), 18:29.
3rd period - Alzner, WSH (tripping), 7:08; Hertl, SJ (interference), 13:31; Carlson, WSH (interference), 15:32.
Shots Saves
WSH - Holtby 24 20
SJ - Jones 27 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
WSH 12 8 7 27
SJ 9 10 5 24
Power Play Conversion
WSH 0 of 5
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Brent Burns
Logan Couture
Joe Thornton
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: Morton, Peel. Linesmen: Knorr, Cormier.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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