With injuries mounting, and playing in their third game in four nights, the Washington Capitals needed to play mistake-free hockey.
Unfortunately for them, the San Jose Sharks were ready to pounce on their road weary prey, as they jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and never let up.
Ryan Clowe scored two goals, and Rob Blake had four assists, as the overall NHL leaders improved to 17-3-1, routing the Capitals, 7-2.
29-year-old forward (who plays like he’s 18 again) Joe Thornton and captain Patrick Marleau, each added a goal and a assist for San Jose, a team whose record is an ungodly 11-0-1 while at the Shark Tank.
The final nail in the coffin came with 52.3 seconds left to play, as defenseman Mike Grier netted the seventh goal, and also the highest score of the season for the sizzling Sharks.
Sharks goalie Brian Boucher stopped 19 shots in his seventh consecutive start, due to the injury to No. 1 netminder Evegeni Nabakov.
Coach Todd McLellan was worried coming into this non-conference duel with the upstart Capitals. San Jose had not played in four days.
“It’s never the same when you have that many days off, said McClellan. “But it’s a lesson learned.”
From A to Z, the San Jose Sharks are playing outstanding hockey.
Minus puck punishers Alexander Semin and Mike Green, the Washington Capitals were unable to answer the firepower brought upon them.
Goalie Brent Johnson stopped only 21 of 28 shots faced, as his goals against average went up significantly with this poor performance.
Tom Poti and Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Capitals, who lead the Southeastern Conference by one point over division rival Carolina.
Sergei Federov returned briefly for the Capitals, after sitting out the last seven games with a sprained ankle.
He skated for four minutes, and didn’t come back on the ice, for another shift the rest of the game.
Bruce Boudreau, on the anniversary of his hiring as Washington’s Coach, had this to say about what transpired.
“I thought we made three or four mistakes, and they’re the kind of team that when you make mistakes, they’ll capitalize on it right away.” “We’ve been getting away with two or three mistakes a game, but tonight it really hurt us.”
Alexander Semin remains listed on the Capitals injury report as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Mike Green missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury, incurred during the Capitals game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Capitals have lost 11 straight games against San Jose.
Sharks goalie Evegeni Nabakov out since Nov. 6, will start the Sharks next game against Chicago on Wednesday.