Posted January 06, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Since the start of 2008-09, the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks have more points than any other teams in the NHL, so they're used to coming away with two more often than not.
For more than a decade, the Capitals have rarely come away with any against the Sharks.
Winners of 14 of 15 against Washington, surging San Jose could have its hands full Saturday night at HP Pavilion against a Capitals team looking for a fifth consecutive victory.
Two of the league's regular-season powers in recent years haven't exactly been lighting up the NHL thus far, but each club might be playing its best hockey of the season.
San Jose has gone 7-1-2 in its last 10 games after an inconsistent start, and pulled into first place in the Pacific Division after wins over Anaheim and Columbus on consecutive nights earlier this week.
The Sharks (22-11-4) have allowed a total of 15 goals in their last eight games after Thursday's 2-1 win over Columbus.
"Maybe we didn't play our best, but we still had (39) shots," said captain Joe Thornton, who scored the winning goal in his 500th game with San Jose. "That's still a good night. We had a lot of good chances. ... For coming off back-to-back nights, it's pretty impressive."
Washington (21-15-2) has also surrendered just 15 goals in its last eight, but it's been even stingier during a four-game winning streak. The Capitals have given up five in that stretch, and are back in second place in the Southeast - four points behind Florida - after Tuesday's 3-1 win over Calgary.
After finishing with the most points in the East the past two seasons, though, Washington is fighting to merely get back into playoff position as the season nears its midpoint. It's currently ninth.
"This is too good (of a) group to be in the middle, middle of nowhere,'' said Alex Ovechkin, who has five goals and three assists during the winning streak. "We just want to be in the playoffs.''
With every point potentially critical for the Capitals, they can't be too happy to see the Sharks on the schedule twice - San Jose visits the Verizon Center Feb. 13 - for the third consecutive season.
Only the Sharks have more points (383) than Washington (380) since 2008-09, but that order might be reversed had the Caps been able to solve San Jose.
Washington is 1-13-1 against the Sharks since 1999-2000 and hasn't won in San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993, going 0-10-0 with a tie since. In four post-lockouts visits, they've been outscored 19-7.
Ovechkin has four goals and two assists in seven career meetings with San Jose, and both he and teammate Nicklas Backstrom scored in the Caps' latest visit to Northern California - a 3-2 loss Feb. 17.
Backstrom appears as if he'll be good to go Saturday, just four days after taking a vicious elbow to the head from Calgary's Rene Bourque - a hit that earned the Flames winger a five-game suspension.
Backstrom, who has a team-high 42 points, underwent tests to determine if he suffered a concussion, then returned to practice Friday after missing the previous two days. Though it appears he won't miss any games, his history of migraines could convince the Capitals to proceed cautiously.
Washington, which has surrendered 2.25 goals per game since Dale Hunter took over - more than a goal less than it was allowing under Bruce Boudreau - will want to keep a close eye on Ryane Clowe.
The Sharks winger, who scored his first goal in eight games Thursday, has four in his last three home games against the Caps.
BEST OF MAXIM
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom returned to practice Thursday and isn't expected to miss any time after taking an elbow to the head earlier in the week.Backstrom went through the motions at practice two days after he was leveled by the elbow of Calgary forward Rene Bourque in a 3-1 victory over the Flames.Bourque was given a five-game suspension for the hit, which...
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 6, 2012) – Comcast SportsNet California, the home of “Authentic Bay Area Sports,” delivered its highest San Jose Sharks regular season rating ever last night (Thursday, Jan. 5) – a 2.22 average ho...
James Sheppard on the ice this morning:
David Pollak: “Long-awaited James Sheppard update: Practiced today w/ #sjsharks teammates, knee feels good and a March 1 target date for game action.”
Also on the ice: 19, 88, 61, 30, 1, 69, 57, 2, 78, 17, 28, 64, 68, 39, 26, 10, 60, 31.
Not yet: 29, 12, 22, 3, 8, 44.
88 hootin’ & hollerin’ over a goal. No need to point out...
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Washington Capitals center Marcus Johansson never got to enjoy a gold-medal celebration at the world junior championships. In two appearances, including one in which he served as captain of Sweden, he won silver and bronze. So when Sweden beat Russia 1-0 in overtime for gold at ...
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is practicing again, two days after taking an elbow to the head.
The Sharks Live Blog for the January 5, 2012 game between the San Jose Sharks and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Comcast SportsNet California and KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM.
Blue Jackets @ Sharks - Jan 5, 2012
Bruce Boudreau is only an interested observer of the Washington Capitals these days. But from his vantage point as the now-former coach, Boudreau might be the least-surprised person in hockey that Alex Ovechkin has begun heating up.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Few players in the NHL hit like San Jose Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. In open ice, he can hammer opponents with the precision and power that's hard to measure. "He's just a beast. You see him off the ice, he's just a big tree trunk," teammate ...
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Center Nicklas Backstrom spent two days downplaying concerns about whatever kind of head injury he suffered Tuesday night from Calgary forward Rene Bourque's right elbow. He repeatedly said he's feeling "pretty good" and that he'd be available for the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at the ...
The final score was 2-1 for the Sharks tonight, but if not for the play of Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis Sanford the Sharks would have feasted on a struggling Columbus team.
In Joe Thorntonâs 500th game as a Shark he scored the game winning goal in the second period and it was business as usual for San Jose. They played a good solid game, which is what we have come to expect...
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Sharks coach Todd McLellan has noted this season that his team has a tendency to play up - or...
Joe Thornton scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period of his 500th game with San Jose and the Sharks went on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night for their third straight win.
Patrick Marleau scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period off a nifty, no-look pass from Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks extended their home hex over the Washington Capitals with a 5-2 victory Saturday night.