Almost two years ago, on February 13, 2012, when the Washington Capitals last met the San Jose Sharks, a young goaltender named Braden Holtby started in net for the Capitals. On Tuesday night, another young upstart goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, started for Washington. He fared slightly better than Holtby in 2012, stopping 28 of 29 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss.
The Capitals knew they’d have to start strong against a Sharks team that has the best first period numbers in the league. They outshot the Sharks 9-1 early in the first, but then did not register a shot on goal for more than 10 minutes, leading to a San Jose goal before the period expired. Alex Ovechkin’s second period tally accounted for the Capitals’ scoring for the evening.
All told, the Capitals played their most complete game in weeks. San Jose is a disciplined team, and there were only two minor penalties during the entire game.
They [San Jose Sharks] are a very good hockey team,” said Adam Oates. “They have been for a long time. They are a team on autopilot; that’s what I told the guys. They have been together a long time, same coach for a long time, same system; they know what they are doing. They show up; they are not intimidated on the road.”
He continued: “They’ve got the best first period numbers in the league. They’ve got the best power-plays by 50, in the league, which is a ridiculous number. But you see why. They are a very disciplined hockey team and every night you’ve got to be ready.”
The Capitals are ending their ninth back-to-back of the season against the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has fared quite well despite their adversity. If the Capitals truly have started to turn a corner, it will show Wednesday night.