Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sharks Top Capitals In Fierce D.C. Battle

With three periods of fierce hockey coming to a close, the San Jose Sharks emerged victorious with a score of 2-0. Logan Couture scored again with his 24th of the season, and Sharks netminder Antti Niemi earned his second shutout in a row (after the Sharks’ 2-0 win in Boston last Saturday).

Coming into the game, fans and players alike knew this would be a hard-fought game, as the statistics showed the San Jose Sharks and the Washington Capitals almost dead even in each of their respective conference standings. Both the Sharks and Capitals are each well known for their offensive prowess, and facing each other would prove to be a significant test for each of the teams’ defensive lines.

The Capitals started their lineup with the young Michal Neuvirth in net and played without their star defender, Mike Green, after he had been hit to the side of the face with a wayward puck from a Brooks Orpik shot from their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The first two periods of the game, based on the scoresheet, were fairly uneventful. By the time the second period was over, the two teams remained scoreless, with only two minor penalties in the contest up to that point. As the scoreless streak continued, both teams played defensively well, until rookie Logan Couture broke the tie with eight minutes left in the third after receiving a beautiful board pass from Ben Eager, gently shooting the puck through Capitals netminder Neuvirth’s five hole. Only two short minutes later, defender Dan Boyle pinched in to one time a Heatley pass over Neuvirth’s shoulder to increase the score to 2-0.

From Boyle’s goal until the end of the game, the Capitals emerged with a strong offensive push, even pulling Neuvirth with two minutes to go while on a power play, giving the Capitals a 6-4 advantage. With the advantage, the Capitals failed to capitalize, even with powerful sniper Alex Ovechkin sending quick shots to the net, only coming short to Niemi’s quickness. The Capitals had many close opportunities, giving the local Caps fans the hope they would come back.

Both goaltenders were the highlight of the game, with Niemi making unbelievable kick saves and absorbing rebounds and Neuvirth making similarly wonderful saves. Although Niemi ended with a well-deserved shutout, Neuvirth still emerged with a respectable .944 save percentage.

Despite the outcome, the Sharks face the Capitals again next Thursday, the 17th, at the Shark Tank for a rematch. (As both a Sharks and Ovechkin fan, I will definitely be there.)

Catch the Sharks tomorrow at 4pm as they face the Columbus Blue Jackets, who themselves just came off of a victorious 4-1 game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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