The San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals complete the season series as the Pacific Division leader welcomes the NHL’s top team to meet for the second and final time. The Sharks blanked the Capitals on Nov. 8 in an Election Night tilt on the strength of a 24-save shutout from Martin Jones.
Capitals the Toast of the NHL
The Capitals are in the driver’s seat in the race for the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy.
Thier 95 points so far this season are five ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild. The Capitals’ success again features Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby but the complementary players are stepping up. Evgeny Kuznetsov is third on the team with 51 points, and the Caps feature eight players with more than 30 points and two, the injured Andre Burakovsky and Dmitri Orlov, are right outside that at 29 points apiece.
Washington greatly bolstered their blueline at the NHL trade deadline as they acquired the right-handed Kevin Shattenkirk. The former St. Louis Blues defender has two assists in his four games in Washington, D.C. to go with a minus-2 rating and seven shots on goal.
This year Holtby has been exceptional for Washington, allowing fewer than two goals per game and posting an impressive .929 save percentage. However, against the Sharks, Holtby has been flat-out terrible. In six career games versus San Jose, he is allowing 3.68 goals per game and stopping only 88.1 percent of the shots he’s faced.
Sharks (Nearly) A Complete Roster
The Sharks finally welcomed their deadline acquisition as Jannik Hansen arrived in San Jose. Head coach Peter DeBoer promptly put him on the first line at his first practice on the left wing with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Not seeing Schlemko for the start of practice. #SJSharks lines are
White — 36-19-8
Teal — 12-39-89
Blue — 27-48-68
Gray — 20-50-42
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) March 8, 2017
David Schlemko is day-to-day with something bothering him below the waist, so Dylan DeMelo once again will draw into the lineup for the Sharks. It’s a good bet to see the speedy Marcus Sorensen as well against a talented and quick Capitals team. Joonas Donskoi looks to have recovered from his injury as well that has limited him to just 45 games this year and 15 points.
Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, CSN-DC
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 8: Sharks 3 – Capitals 0
San Jose Sharks – 39-19-7 (85 Points)
Home Record: 20-7-4
Hot Players: Melker Karlsson
Key Injuries: David Schlemko
Jannik Hansen – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo
Washington Capitals – 44-14-7 ( 95 Points)
Road Record: 17-8-6
Hot Players: Kevin Shattenkirk, Nicklas Backstrom
Key Injuries: Andre Burakovsky
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Brett Connolly – Lars Eller – Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Kevin Shattenkirk
Braden Holtby (expected)
He became only the 13th player in NHL history to reach the historical milestone. Of those to record 1,000 helpers, 11 of the 12 players to record 1,000 assists are in the Hall of Fame. The 12th is none other than Jaromir Jagr, who just might squeeze into The Hall as well when he retires (likely at the end of the 2024-25 season).
2)Tonight’s matchup pits the top two of the most prolific shooters in the NHL: Brent Bruns and Alex Ovechkin. Burns leads the NHL with 257 shots on goal and The Great 8 is fourth at 240. Both players have potted 27 goals.
3)Braden Holtby earned his eighth shutout of the 2016-17 campaign as he blanked the New Jersey Devils on March 2. It was the Capitals’ 11th shutout of the season, three of which belong to backup Philipp Grubauer, setting the franchise record for most shutouts in a single season. The 11 shutouts lead the NHL and the Caps Washington also lead the league in goals-against average (2.04) as well as save percentage (.926). Holtby is also on pace to become just the third goalie in NHL history to record three consecutive 40-win seasons, joining Martin Brodeur (2005-08) and former San Jose netminder (and best netminder in San Jose Sharks’ history) Evgeni Nabokov (2007-10).
4)No skater has been more deadly shooting the puck this year than T.J. Oshie. He’s recorded 25 goals on just 110 shots on net for a blistering 22.7 shooting percentage, the best in the NHL among players with 10 or more shots.
5)The Sharks are 24-9-2-1 in franchise history against the Capitals.