The San Jose Sharks (29-12-6, 64 points) defeated the Washington Capitals (22-17-7, 51 points) by the final score of 2-1 in a shootout Tuesday night. Antti Niemi was at the top of his game this evening and stopped 35 of 36 shots faced, including no goals in the shootout, leading his team to victory in Washington.
Goals were hard to come by this evening in what was certainly a defensive game that also featured great goaltending. That’s good news for Niemi who was in a bit of a slump for a while after having been pulled twice recently. He needed to be strong tonight too because he faced the NHL’s leading scorer Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals outshot the Sharks 36-29.
San Jose opened up the scoring in the latter half of the first period when Tyler Kennedy scored on a deflection from the high slot after a shot-pass from Jason Demers at the point. With that assist Demers moved into the team lead for points by a defenseman with 22 passing Dan Boyle. It was great to see Kennedy get on the board and overall he had one of the better games of anyone on the Sharks.
In the second period Washington got on the board when Alex Ovechkin scored who extended his league lead in goals to 33. Ovechkin would score on a one-timer from a bad angle off to Niemi’s right. With that goal the game was tied up at one and would stay there for a while.
The third period featured the only two minor penalties of the game, one for each team. Neither team was able to do anything, but San Jose’s penalty did come at a very critical moment.
That moment came with 1:15 left in regulation after Patrick Marleau was called for hooking which would put the top power play in the NHL on the ice in crunch time. However, the Sharks penalty kill unit stood strong and staved off the power play enough to earn the point before they headed to overtime.
In that overtime the Capitals starting off with a four-on-three man-advantage for the remaining 45 seconds on the Marleau infraction. The Sharks would proceed to kill it off and once the winger came out of the box the action became end-to-end. In a span of about a minute and a half the Capitals hit the post and were stopped on a breakaway while San Jose was robbed by Washington goaltender Mikhail Grubauer on a point-blank chance.
In the shootout only one goal would be scored, and that would be off the stick of Marleau using his quick release. That would be the only goal needed though as Niemi was strong in his cage stopping one shot while the other two would miss the net.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (35 saves)
2. Mikhail Grubauer (28 saves)
3. Tyler Kennedy (1 goal, 6 shots)