WASHINGTON – The Sharks jumped out to an early lead and surrendered a pair of three-goal cushions, but found a way to get past the Washington Capitals in a shootout on Tuesday at Verizon Center, 6-5.
San Jose improved to 3-0 on the season in what was the first of a five-game East Coast road trip.
Leading 4-3 after two, Tommy Wingels gave the visitors a two-goal cushion after Tye McGinn’s stick work forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Chris Tierney got the puck to a charging Wingels, who followed his own shot and got it through Justin Peters at 1:37 of the third period.
Washington fought back to tie it, though. Alex Ovechkin was given far too much time in the circle with before whizzing in a wrist shot past Antti Niemi at 14:09, with Brent Burns off for a tripping minor.
A little more than a minute later, Troy Brouwer walked in after Matt Irwin fell in the defensive zone and lifted the puck over Niemi to make it 5-5 at 15:25.
Joe Pavelski scored the only goal of the shootout to earn the Sharks the extra point in the standings.
For the third straight game the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead, courtesy of two goals by Matt Irwin and one by John Scott, who were both making their season debuts.
The first two came courtesy of Irwin. It took less than five minutes for the defenseman to strike twice, temporarily tying him for the team lead in goals.
He made it 1-0 just 1:23 into the game, when a point shot off of a faceoff win by Joe Thornton sailed past Holtby.
A power play marker increased the lead to 2-0. Matt Nieto got the puck on net, and Irwin charged in to slip in the rebound at 4:36 for a power play goal.
Scott’s surprising marker made it 3-0. After Brooks Orpik turned the puck over in the neutral zone, the puck made its way to Scott’s stick in the offensive zone. The hulking enforcer found the top corner at 9:34, getting off a shot before Orpik could recover, for his third goal in 237 career games and first as a Shark. Holtby was pulled for Justin Peters at that point.
Washington outplayed the Sharks significantly in the second period, though, striking for three goals to San Jose’s one to cut it to a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
A power play goal got it going, when some good puck movement resulted in Marcus Johansson’s marker at 2:51. That was the first goal allowed by San Jose this season, but it didn’t take long for them to surrender numbers two and three.
Pavelski restored the three-goal cushion with a shot that deflected off of Peters and Eric Fehr before creeping across the line at 5:27, but the Capitals came right back with a pair to get to within 4-3. Matt Green floated a shot through traffic and past Niemi at 6:35, and half a minute later Ovechkin rifled one past the Sharks’ goaltender.
Todd McLellan used his timeout after Ovechkin’s goal, eventually escaping the second period with a one-goal lead still intact.
The Sharks are 10-1-0 in their last 11 games in the nation’s capital.
After a wretched 0-for-8 performance against Winnipeg on Saturday, the Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play. They squandered a chance late in regulation and overtime when Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for high-sticking at 18:46 of the third period.
They are 2-for-15 for the season.
Washington’s first goal ended a streak of eight straight kills for the Sharks to start the season. The Capitals finished 2-for-4.
The Sharks continued their goalie platoon, giving Niemi the start after Alex Stalock shut out the Jets on Saturday. He made 29 saves on 34 shots, improving to 5-0-2 in his career against Washington.
Holtby had given up just one goal in 125 minutes before allowing three Sharks goals on seven shots. Peters made 14 saves on 16 shots to take the loss.
The Sharks have chased the starting goaltender in two of three games this season, including the Kings’ Jonathan Quick in the season opener last week.
Defenseman Scott Hannan played in his 1000th career NHL game, becoming the 291st player to reach that milestone.
Rookie Mirco Mueller was a healthy scratch, making way for Irwin.
Sharks injured forwards Mike Brown, Barclay Goodrow, Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard are all with the team for its road trip.
The Sharks continue their five-game road trip with three games in the New York area, starting with the Islanders on Thursday. They oppose the Devils on Saturday in New Jersey’s home opener, Rangers on Sunday, and conclude their trip next Tuesday in Boston.