[again, written yesterday, but just posting today, unedited]
I was feeling pretty leery about last night's Caps/Sharks game. The Sharks are a top-three possession team, and have only lost once to the Caps in the last fourteen years. On the plus side, the Sharks have several injured players (Dustin Brown, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl, at least).
Not unexpectedly, Gru got the start in goal again, with the rest of the Caps lineup being the same as the last several games.
And things started out very well for the Caps; they were territorially dominant for the first seven minutes (or so) of the game, although I don't remember any great chances during that time. But things started evening up quickly after that, leading up to a Sharks goal on a very pretty deflection thirteen minutes in.
The Caps matched that nineteen minutes later as OV found the roof of the goal through a hole a hair larger than the puck, from a very sharp angle.
The Sharks thought that they'd taken a lead at the end of the second, but it turned out that time had expired while the puck was still in the crease. And the third period went by in a long blur of not much happening (although the only two minors called in the game were at the very beginning and very end of the period).
Having said all that, I was pretty happy with the game. The Caps out-shot and out-attempted the Sharks by a small but significant amount (roughly 53% of both shots and Fenwick for, both overall and 5v5 close. Of course, unlike Phoenix's game the other night, almost the entire game was played 5v5 close).
Anyway, all of that led to the game going into overtime. And unlike the Sabres game, the Caps were dominant in overtime. Like the Sabres game, though, they were still unable to score. So into the shootout they went. For only the fourteenth time this season.
And for the third shootout game in a row, the Caps were unable to put even one shot past an Olympic goaltender (this one, though, wasn't wearing any pants. I have no idea why). Which meant that Marleau's goal in the second round stood up, and sent the Caps to the showers with only one point.
There was very limited special teams, so all I'll really say is that the power play didn't have much zone time, but the PK didn't allow much either.
As far as individual players, Gru had a very good game, allowing only the one goal on twenty-seven shots on net. Fehr was also a force, with some strong defensive plays using his reach, and a couple of very good chances. Grabo was also excellent, creating good chances for Fehr and OV, as well as drawing the penalty for the Caps only power play. Speaking of OV, that shot was a sharpshooter's dream, although this was not an OV game.
That is to say, San Jose is a team that lives by playing along the boards. And the Caps basically beat the Sharks at their own game, with some very strong cycling. And the boards are not OV's game; he's just ok (compared to average NHL talent, not compared to his talents elsewhere on the ice) there.
MarJo showed how far he's come; last season, him along the boards was basically an automatic turnover. This season, he's been fairly strong; he even beat Jumbo Joe in a board battle at one point last night.
One thing that surprises me, looking back now; Ward is a very strong board player, and I didn't notice him being terribly off, or anything, last night. But his possession numbers were terrible (he, MarJo, and Chimmer were all under 40% Corsi For); I'm not sure how that happened.
That line, though, was heavily victimized; all the other forward lines were over 55% (next lowest forwards were Brouwer and Beagle at 58.8%, in fact). I guess I must have noticed one or two of their successes, and missed all their failures, because that's really terrible. Especially with how sheltered they were, in terms of starts (and, to a lesser degree, in terms of competition), they need to do better.
But like I said, I was pretty happy with the game, even with the shootout results. Like I've said before, games like this will lead to many wins and few losses.
Next up are the Penguins, tonight, in Pittsburgh. Oates more or less promised Gru wouldn't be playing again. I'd like to see Holtby, but if I were to bet money, I'd put it on Neuvy. Also, tonight's game is on NBCSN; hopefully, I'll remember to set the DVR. Go Caps!