5-game winning streak ends with a thud against San Jose
Unlucky Caps struggle to get pucks on net in first shutout of season
WASHINGTON — Knowing that the nation’s capital would be fixated on a tense competition Tuesday night, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz had a message for fans who would be at Verizon Center. He asked that they not forget about another contest happening at the same time, that they “please pay attention to the game a little bit.”
The Capitals didn’t give them much to watch. On the first Election Day the Capitals have played in Washington in franchise history, they lost to the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, ending their five-game winning streak.
It marked the first time the Capitals have been shut out this season, but Sharks goaltender Martin Jones had to make just 24 saves, with Washington struggling to get pucks on net.
“It just didn’t feel like either team was really opening anything up,” defenseman John Carlson said. “They cashed in on their chances, and we didn’t. That was kind of it for us.”
The Sharks didn’t wildly outchance Washington, tallying one fewer shot on goal than the Capitals, but traffic in front of goaltender Braden Holtby made for fortuitous bounces for San Jose. Both goals scored against Holtby went off wellintentioned Capitals defensemen in front of the net, illustrating the difficult balance between preventing shots from reaching Holtby and not making saves more difficult for him.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to talk about this year,” Karl Alzner said. “I think you probably see it in some of the blocked-shot totals that are down, because we’re trying to get out of the way so he can see pucks that weknow are stoppable — 100 percent stoppable or at least 99 percent.
“We want to get out of the way, but if there’s a guy whohas a chance to tip a puck, then you’ve got to unfortunately stand in front of him, and he won’t be able to see it. Then we have to do a good job of tying up the stick and getting in front of the puck.”
The game was too close to call after a scoreless first period, but MarcEdouard Vlasic opened up the scoring for the Sharks with a shot from the point that deflected off Alzner and Holtby 12:23 into the second period.
“I was focused on trying to tie [Joel Ward’s] stick up, and I had good body position on him,” Alzner said. “What me and Holts think was that the puck was coming to the backdoor guy, trying to shoot for a tip there, and that’s whyit was going wide and hit in the kind of, like, the hip area. It’s just a bad bounce.”
The Sharks’ Tommy Wingels controls the puck in front of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby inside Verizon Center. “They cashed in on their chances, and we didn’t,” defenseman John Carlson said. “That was kind of it for us.”