The Caps were looking to build on two very good wins over teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference over the weekend, but instead the Capitals were shutout for the eighth time this season.
Sharks goalie Antti Niemi posted his second straight 2-0 shutout, as the Capitals reverted to a team that plays as individuals again last evening. The loss was a deflating one, as it appeared the Capitals had really started to turn the corner in terms of playing 60 minute games.
"We got away from our game, what we've been doing and we were successful doing it," Mathieu Perreault said. "We start trying to do things on our own and we don't get any goals. We get goals when we get pucks deep and work and tonight we didn't do that at all and we get shut out again... We didn't battle, we didn't work hard to get anything. We just have to blame ourselves."
The Capitals familiar MO of being out shot in the first and second period showed its ugly head last night. Washington was out shot 36-25 for the game and did not seem to have flow or puck movement. .
Washington went back to trying to make the perfect pass or score the highlight reel goal at times and it is cost them scoring chances against Niemi. The Sharks are a big team and seemed to wear down Washington at certain times during the game.
Washington did have many little flurries and came on late but late flurries only score points in boxing matches.
Headed into last night's game against San Jose, Washington had scored a goal in six straight periods. A feat they had not accomplished since scoring in seven straight periods in late November. Now they have been shutout for the eighth time since Nov. 19. A span of 37 games.
The return of Alexander Semin did not seem to spark the Washington offense, although he did lead the team in shots on goal with four. Semin had missed 12 games with a hip and groin injury and had not played since Jan. 8.
Caps defenseman Mike Green did not play last night after being struck in the face with a puck on Sunday, but squashed concussion rumors after participating fully in Tuesdays practice.
Michael Neuvirth played great between the pipes for the first 34 shots he faced but failed to stop the last two San Jose shots of the night
Sharks rookie Logan Couture, who leads the Sharks and all NHL rookies with 24 goals, surprised Neuvirth and beat him five hole for the game’s first goal with just 8:05 remaining in the the third period.
San Jose's All-Star veteran defenseman Danny Boyle added insurance less than three minutes later as he fired a slap shot just below the right face-off circle for the 2-0 lead. The Sharks were cycling the puck behind Washington's net, the Caps seemed to be standing around, when Danny Heatley found Boyle, and he drilled it past Neuvirth.
Neuvirth playing in his second consecutive game received praise from his head coach following the game, sort of. "In the end, he played good for 51 minutes," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "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 for the first period."
Neuvirth added about his play, "I was seeing the puck pretty well. They got a little bit lucky on that first goal. It kind of surprised me. I got to be square next time."
The Capitals had the same five players on the ice for both goals in last evenings contest. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner all registered a minus two game against the Sharks.
The Capitals thought they had scored in the first period as an Alexander Semin shot trickled through Niemi's pad and into the net. The official behind the net lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle.
"It was deflating," Boudreau said. "I mean, obviously [the whistle] 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 these days than coming from behind. It probably would have helped us, but you can't blame that one chance—we didn't get opportunities because we didn't deserve them."
At least Boudreau realizes the Caps would have needed more than one goal to win the game. The Capitals defense continues to shine. This was the tenth straight game that Washington has surrendered three goals or less to an opponent.
While the Caps defense continues to impress, the offense remains inconsistent. Washington has scored just 33 goals in its last 15 games.
The Capitals have one more home game before embarking on a five game road trip, a Saturday matinee against the hot LA Kings. Los Angeles is currently in the middle of a ten game road trip and has won five of their last six, with three of those five coming by way of a shootout.
The Caps will then head west to visit Phoenix, Anaheim, and these same Sharks before coming back east to play in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The Capitals return home on Feb. 25 to play the New York Rangers.