SAN JOSE -– The Sharks announced their smallest crowd in more than nine years for Wednesday night’s home game with the Washington Capitals.
It’s probably not a coincidence that they’ve now lost more home games than they’ve won, as Washington claimed a 5-4 overtime win. The Sharks are 14-10-5 at SAP Center this season, after they had the best home mark in the Western Conference a year ago.
Joel Ward scored the game-winner at 2:42 of overtime, putting in the rebound of a Mike Green backhand.
The Sharks lost for their fifth time in the last six games (1-3-2), including three in a row at home.
Washington scored twice in the latter half of the third period to pull ahead, 4-3.
The Caps tied it on Jay Beagle’s second goal of the night. He got some assistance from a linesman that was directly in the way of a defending Mirco Mueller, and skated untouched towards the goal before slipping in a backhand through the outstretched Antti Niemi at 11:17.
John Carlson put Washington ahead about two minutes later, streaking towards the net and finding the top corner at 13:26.
The Sharks responded as Joe Thornton’s goal made it 4-4. The top line center was left alone in the circle, took a feed through the slot from Joe Pavelski, and beat Braden Holtby to the short side at 14:29 on a play that began with a takeaway by Melker Karlsson.
The Sharks moved back into second place in the Pacific Division one point ahead of Calgary and Vancouver, although both clubs have multiple games in hand on San Jose.
The Sharks scored three times in the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes.
Brent Burns got the offense going on a power play that carried over to start the frame, tying the game at 1-1. The defenseman’s wrist shot had eyes just 21 seconds after the faceoff, as Holtby couldn’t pick up the floating disc through traffic.
Burns got another just 22 seconds later. Patrick Marleau set it up, after faking a shot and then dropping it off to Burns, who quickly directed it towards the net.
After going 14 straight without a goal, Burns now has three in his last two games. His 14 goals are tied for second in the NHL among defensemen.
Washington managed to tie the game at 2-2 with a power play goal of its own, as Troy Brouwer redirected in an Alex Ovechkin blast at 6:17 of the second period, but Couture put San Jose back on top when he tucked in a wraparound at 14:48.
Washington took a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period. Brooks Orpik directed the puck towards the crease where it hit Matt Tennyson’s skate, and Beagle was there to deposit the loose puck at 15:02.
The Capitals started to control play late in the first, but Eric Fehr was whistled for hooking Pavelski at the 19-minute mark, leading to Burns’ key goal to start the second.
The announced attendance of 16,956 was the lowest at SAP Center –- then HP Pavilion -– since Feb. 2, 2006, when they drew 15,226 vs. Minnesota.
Former Sharks goaltender and one of the most popular players in franchise history Evgeni Nabokov dropped the opening puck, eliciting a loud ovation. Earlier in the day, Nabokov officially announced his retirement from the NHL in a press conference at SAP Center.
The Sharks dropped to 1-2-1 without top defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who remains on injured reserve with a suspected concussion.
Each team scored with a man advantage. The Sharks scored on their only power play opportunity, while Washington was 1-for-2.
San Jose is 3-for-17 on the power play over the last seven games.
Pavelski and Ovechkin entered the game tied for the NHL lead with 15 power play goals each, but neither found the back of the net on Wednesday.
Holtby, who was pulled in the first Sharks-Capitals meeting on Oct. 14, made 26 saves.
Niemi made 28 saves on 33 shots in what was his eighth start in the last night games. He’s 5-0-3 in his career vs. Washington.
Couture moved past Dan Boyle for 10th place on the Sharks’ all-time scoring list with 270 career points.
John Scott and Barclay Goodrow returned to the fourth line in place of wingers Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins.
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner played in his 400th NHL game.
The Sharks visit Arizona on Friday for the third of a five-game season series with the lowly Coyotes. San Jose is 1-0-1 in the first two, including a 3-2 win at Gila River Arena on Jan. 13.
San Jose hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, and visits Nashville and Dallas next week before the outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 21.