In what has already been a remarkable regular season, the Capitals have lost a game by more than one goal just seven times in their first 67 games. The team that handed them their worst defeat of the season, the San Jose Sharks, will host the Caps tonight at the Shark Tank.
Way back on Oct. 13, in the Caps’ second game of the season, the Sharks handed the Caps a 5-0 loss, The Caps were without captain Alex Ovechkin, who was healthy scratched for oversleeping and showing up late to the morning skate, and Nicklas Backstrom, who missed his second of three games to open the season following summer hip surgery.
“I think they’re a much different team than they were,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told CSNBayArea. “But, I’d like to think we are, too. It’s a great test for us, and I think our guys should be excited about seeing where we stack up against arguably the best team in the league.”
The Capitals rebounded nicely from that 5-0 whitewash, winning their next five games and setting the tone for what promises to be their best regular season in team history.
“They’ve obviously set themselves apart from the rest of the league,” said Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, who faced the Caps 36 times in his career, most as a member of the Penguins.
Tonight also marks the Caps’ second game against old teammate Joel Ward, who signed with the Sharks last summer following four seasons in Washington.
“They’ve been doing well,” Ward said. “I think a lot of guys have really stepped up, like (Braden Holtby) and (Evgeny Kuzetsov). They’ve got a lot of guys that have really picked it up on an already good team.”
Holtby is expected to make his 56th start of the season and is seeking his 42nd win, which would set a career high. Kuznetsov has already exceeded his career highs in goals (20), assists (48) and points (68).
The Caps have played an NHL record 12 straight one-goal games (8-3-1) and are coming off a thrilling 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Tonight marks the final stop of a four-game, eight-day trip that has taken them to Boston, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
The Sharks are coming off a 3-0 home loss to the Devils and are 2-2-0 in their last four games. They are just 12-15-3 at the Shark Tank, where they play eight of their next nine games.
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