Sharks Vs. Capitals: Caps Swallowed By Sharks In 2-0 Shutout Loss

The Caps were shut out for the eighth time this season; this time around by the Sharks. Washington has now lost 13 of 14 to San Jose.

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Sharks Vs. Capitals: Antti Niemi Blanks Alex Semin And The Caps 2-0

Washington, DC-Michal Neuvirth's wizardry in net on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins earned him another start Tuesday night in a showdown with the San Jose Sharks. His shut out streak remained intact for another two-and-a-half periods until he ran into San Jose's star rookie Logan Couture.

Couture scored at the 11:55 mark in the third period to break a scoreless tie against the Capitals and Dan Boyle added an insurance tally 2:52 later to give the Sharks a 2-0 victory and their fourth straight win.

Couture's 24th goal of the season was more than enough to support goalie Antti Niemi's efforts. Niemi stonewalled Washington, making 25 saves as San Jose handed them their eighth shutout of the season.

Not even the return of Alex Semin to Washington's lineup after a 12-game layoff could prevent another shutout. Semin registered a team-high four shots, but overall the entire team appeared to lack the hustle which had led to big wins over Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh in the past week.

"There wasn't a lot of energy on the bench, but at the same time I wanted to pick them up so I didn't want to be really negative with them," said Bruce Boudreau following the loss. "There was not a lot of jump for whatever reason today."

Neuvirth had another strong showing, stopping 34 of 36 shots in defeat. He made a great save on Ben Eager from point blank range in the first among others, but the Sharks brought enough offensive pressure in the third period to break through.

"I felt pretty good. I was confident," Neuvirth said after the game. "I was seeing the puck pretty well. They got a little bit lucky on that first goal. It kind of surprised me."

"In the end, he played good for 51 minutes," added Boudreau. "But if you want to be a great goalie in this league, when the game is on the line, you have to be the one to stop those. I thought those goals were not of the variety that should have beaten him, but at the same time I thought he kept us in it for the first period."

The Capitals appeared to score in the first period when Semin's shot from the right circle trickled through the crease and was tapped in by Mathieu Perreault, but the officials had whistled the play dead because they believed Niemi had secured the puck.

"[That] was deflating," said Boudreau. "I mean, obviously it shouldn't have been blown. The referee came up and apologized. Doesn't do us a lot of good, we are a team that plays a lot better with a lead than coming from behind. So it probably would've helped us. But you can't blame that one chance. We didn't get opportunities because we didn't deserve them."

The Capitals have been accused before of taking nights off and tonight was a prime example of the mental lapses that have plagued this team in the past. They played well early, but their efforts tailed off down the stretch, leaving them asleep until it was too late.

"You get your chances against them, but you have got to work," said defenseman Scott Hannan. "They're a big strong team and they're going to play physical and they're going to wear you down and throw lots of shots from cycling it around the net. They're dangerous when they get their opportunities."

The Capitals were without Mike Green as the All-Star missed the game after being hit in the side of the head by a Brooks Orpik slap shot against the Penguins on Sunday. They clearly missed his puck moving skills against the Sharks, but he is expected to return on Saturday in time for a matchup with the Kings.

Despite the loss, Washington remains three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the lead in the Southeast Division standings.


Sharks Vs. Capitals: Michal Neuvirth Continues To Play Well In A Scoreless Game

Washington, DC-It's been a rather timid affair here at the Verizon Center after two periods. The game remains 0-0 and neither team has managed to assert themselves in terms of chances. Thus far, it's been a battle of the net-minders as Michal Neuvirth has 27 saves and Antti Niemi has posted 13 stops.

The Caps killed off the final :39 seconds of the John Erskine penalty to continue their stellar work on the penalty kill this season. But as the period wore on, San Jose began pull away in the shot department, forcing Neuvirth to make several difficult saves.

David Steckel mishandled a breakaway chance with under two minutes to go in the period. He deked to his left, but the puck slid away before he could get a chance to beat Niemi.

Alex Ovechkin has just one shot in 13:40 of ice time while the Sharks top trio of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thorton, and Dany Heatley have combined for nine shots.

Alex Semin had another quiet period in his return to the lineup. He attempted three shots, but they were all either blocked or missed the net. He has been on the ice for 10:10.


Sharks Vs. Capitals: Caps Play A Scoreless First Period In Alex Semin's Return

Washington, DC-Michal Neuvirth played another period without surrendering a goal, making it four straight in which he has shut out the opposition and the Capitals played to a 0-0 score through one stanza against the visiting San Jose Sharks.

The Capitals opened the game with some strong puck possession courtesy of their top line. Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Jason Chimera kept the pressure on Antti Niemi and the Sharks defense throughout the first five minutes of the period, but failed to get the Caps on the board.

However, San Jose came roaring back and kept Neuvirth busy on the other end for the rest of the period. In his second straight start, the young Czech goalie saw 15 shots and stopped them all including a wide-open Ben Eager attempt from point blank range.

The teams exchanged penalties late in the period. Jamal Mayers took a seat at 15:29, but San Jose's 15th ranked PK unit limited Washington to a pair of shots and killed off the infraction. John Erskine got the gate for cross checking shortly after at 18:39. San Jose will have :39 remaining on the power play to begin the second period.

With no Mike Green in the lineup, Tyler Sloan is the 6th defenseman tonight. In his return after a 12-game layoff, Alex Semin has two shots in five shifts worth of ice time.


Sharks Vs. Capitals: Caps Will Test Western Conference Waters By Swimming With Sharks

The Washington Capitals spent last weekend winning two big games against important Eastern Conference rivals. Starting this week, the Caps will head into uncharted waters against Western Conference opponents, starting Tuesday at Verizon Center against the San Jose Sharks.

Last Friday, the Caps defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 to cut the latter's Southeast Division lead to three points. On Super Bowl Sunday, Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on national television for the second time this season in a 3-0 shutout victory. With those two wins, the Caps have earned points in eight of nine games (5-1-3) and sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference as of Monday.

Washington's current position in the standings might seem odd, but so does San Jose's. The two teams are often compared; both have had the propensity to follow up regular season success with postseason failure. "San Jose East" jokes aside, the Sharks, like the Caps, are sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference. Last season, both teams earned No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences. The comparisons continue when looking at the Sharks' struggles; San Jose suffered through a 0-6-0 slide, but are 7-0-1 in their last eight, including 6-1-1 in their last eight games on the road. San Jose has won 12 of 13 against Washington with the Caps' lone win coming last season at home.

Tuesday's game with San Jose starts a stretch of five straight games against Western opponents with the final three coming on the road next week. The Caps will face the Sharks again next Thursday, but will have to go without Mike Green Tuesday. Green is unlikely to play after being struck in the face with a puck during the first period of Sunday's win. Not much is known about his health, but it seems to be precautionary, considering the Caps don't play again after Tuesday until Saturday.

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