After an physically and emotionally draining game Wednesday, the Washington Capitals, already fatigued from their recent road trip, entered the "Shark Tank" in San Jose looking to tread water. They ended up swimming with the fishes.
In almost identical fashion to last week's 2-0 loss, the Caps gave up two quick goals to the Sharks in the third period as they fell 3-2. The Caps have not won in San Jose since 1993, dropping 11 straight.
The Capitals and Michal Neuvirth (25 saves) gave up a shorthanded goal to Joe Pavelski in the first period. an even-strength to Ryan Clowe in the third period and a power play goal to Dany Heatley just six minutes later. Last week, Neuvirth surrendered two goals in less than three minutes to break a scoreless tie. Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal of his own 22 seconds after Pavelski's shorthanded tally to tie the game, which remained tied through the second period.
Clowe's goal at 4:27 gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead. Kyle Wellwood shot the puck from the point and it hit someone in front. The puck then bounced right onto Clowe's stick blade and he backhanded it past Neuvirth for his 15th goal of the season.
As the Sharks continued to pressure the Caps in the zone, John Erskine interfered with Scott Nichol and was sent to the penalty box. In just 22 seconds, the Sharks padded their lead. Dan Boyle took a backhanded cross-ice pass at the point, deked around the defender and fired a wrist shot that Heatley got his stick on for the deflection goal.
Nicklas Backstrom kept the Caps in the game with a timely goal at 18:05. Backstrom drove into the zone and benefited from Douglas Murray tripping over himself and fired his 15th goal of the season past Niemi. The Caps would try to pull Neuvirth in favor of an extra attacker, but the Sharks' defensive pressure kept the Caps from entering the offensive zone.
Despite last night's 7-6 win, the Caps are now 1-2-0 on their road trip with two more games away from Verizon Center upcoming. Washington has the next two days off before facing the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon.