5-game win­ning streak ends with a thud against San Jose

Unlucky Caps strug­gle to get pucks on net in first shutout of sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - NHL - By Is­abelle Khur­shudyan

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.”

PA­TRICK SMITH/GETTY IM­AGES

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.”

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