WASHINGTON (AP) — Logan Couture broke a scoreless tie with 8:05 to play, Antti Niemi had 25 saves for his second straight shutout, and the San Jose Sharks ran their defensive-minded winning streak to four games Tuesday, beating the Washington Capitals 2-0.
Ben Eager led Couture just enough for the rookie center to take the pass in open ice at the left circle and put the shot through the legs of goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Dan Boyle added another goal, this time from the right circle with 5:53 to go, as the Sharks extended their points streak to nine games and improved to 3-0 on their seven-game road trip.
The Capitals, whose offensive struggles have threatened to cancel out the team’s improved defensive play, were shut out for the eighth time this season and the second time in five games.
They were coming off an emotional 3-0 win over rival Pittsburgh on Sunday, but their attack was stagnant against the unfamiliar Western Conference Sharks, including a lifeless second period that included just four shots on goal.
Niemi and the Sharks were also coming off a shutout win — 2-0 over Boston on Saturday—and have allowed only 16 goals in their past nine games.
The Capitals’ final chances came when San Jose’s Niclas Wallin was sent off for holding with 2:51 remaining, the only penalty of the third period. Washington soon emptied the net to make it a two-man advantage, but Niemi was up to the task, sprawling on the ice to cover up one furious scramble with about a minute to play.
Neuvirth made 34 saves for the Capitals.
The Capitals actually put the puck in the net in the first period but were done in by a quick whistle. Alexander Semin, back after missing 12 games with a groin injury, took a shot that squeezed between Niemi’s legs.
Both Niemi and the official were unaware that the puck was behind the goalie, so the whistle was blown before Niemi kicked it into his own net with his right skate.
Niemi also made a nice kick save on David Steckel in the first period and deflected Nicklas Backstrom’s drive during the game’s first power play. Niemi’s job was easier when Steckel lost control of the puck and didn’t get a shot off during a clean breakaway in the second period.
Neuvirth was also steady for the Capitals, snatching a drive with his extended glove when Eager had a clean shot from the left circle in the first period, but the Sharks finally solved the Washington goalie in the third.
Notes: Washington D Mike Green sat out after taking a puck to the head in Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh. The Capitals are hopeful he can return for Saturday’s game against Los Angeles. … The Sharks have won 13 of 14 against the Capitals. … The game was the first of five for Washington against Western Conference opponents. … The Capitals assigned C Jay Beagle to Hershey of the AHL.
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