Caps offense stifled again in loss to Sharks


The Capitals' offense was stifled again on Wednesday as they were limited to just one goal in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Washington is now 3-6-2 in the month of January. This loss also gives the Caps their first back-to-back regulation losses of the season.

Here's are some observations from the game.

A sleepy start

It took a while for the Caps to get going in this one. About midway through the first, the Caps were down 1-0, getting outshot 22-12 in total shot attempts and 12-2 in shots on goal. They fought back to trail only 25-23 in shot attempts and 14-8 by the end of the period, but the damage was done on the scoreboard. Brent Burns found Noah Gregor on the back post for the easy goal to make it 1-0, forcing the Caps to play from behind.

Sprong strikes

Daniel Sprong was a healthy scratch the last three games and was eager to get back into the lineup. He took advantage and scored Washington's lone goal in the game just 14 seconds into the third period.

In a play we have seen countless times from Alex Ovechkin, Sprong lined up on the left on an offensive zone faceoff and streaked across the ice as soon as the puck dropped. Nicklas Backstrom won the draw back to Sprong who fired the shot past Reimer.

The goal was Sprong's seventh of the season. He had four shots on goal and another two shot attempts that missed.


Washington just cannot buy a goal right now. On Monday, it was Robin Lehner. Wednesday, it was Sharks goalie James Reimer who stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced to foil the Caps. Sprong's third-period goal snapped a goalless streak of 100:14 stretching back to Saturday's overtime win over Ottawa.


Once again, Washington was able to generate chances, but they just did not connect. Tom Wilson had an opportunity with a 3-on-2 shorthanded break but saw his first deflection stopped and his second trickle just wide. The bounces just are not going their way right now, but at some point, you can't just talk about generating opportunities. You have to get results.


Added to the team's offensive struggles is Washington's inability to score on the man advantage. The Caps failed to score on the power play yet again, going 0-for-3 on the night. 

What can you even say about the power play at this point that hasn't already been said? The team has not scored on the power play on its last 16 chances in a streak that dates back to Jan. 16.

Samsonov starts

Ilya Samsonov got his first start since Jan. 16. He recorded 26 saves on 29 shots. His best of the night came as Jonathan Dahlen was alone in front of the net from the slot. A nice pass from below the goal line set him up, but Samsonov got down to the splits and stuck out his pad to deny the chance to make it 2-0 in the first.

In the third with the Caps desperately trying to tie the game on the power play, Matt Nieto had a breakaway that was stopped by Samsonov, saving the game for the Caps even if the offense could not respond.

There was a scary moment in the third as Timo Meier hit Ovechkin into the shoulder of Samsonov. He was slow to get up and the trainer came out to check on him. He did ultimately remain in the game, however, but gave up a third goal to Jonathan Dahlen soon after which virtually ended the game.

Frustration boiling over

As the buzzer sounded to end the game, Garnet Hathaway and Jonah Gadjovich dropped the gloves. It's a reflection of the frustration the Caps are starting to feel after losing eight of their last 11.