SAN JOSE, Calif. | It’s a small sample size, given that the Washington Capitals have only visited the San Jose Sharks 14 times in history. But they haven’t had a whole lot of success in Northern California.
How little success? The Caps haven’t won at San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993. John Carlson and Marcus Johansson were barely 3 years old at the time and a postage stamp cost 29 cents.
And Dale Hunter was on that team as a player.
Since then, the Caps have lost 11 straight games at HP Pavilion/San Jose Arena.
“They got good fans like we have here. They’re loud and it does give you the edge,” Hunter said. “But we’re just going to have to have a good start. I think by talking to guys in the past they jumped on us early. So we got to get off to a good start in the first and go from there.”
The Caps are 3-10-1 all-time at the Sharks, but those kind of numbers can be glossed over if they manage to start this brief West Coast road trip off with two points. Washington is 7-10-1 on the road this season.
That road record is sixth-worst in the NHL, and the Caps know it needs to change.
“Good teams play well on the road,” Hunter said. “Sometimes you get off to a bad start on the road. It kind of balloons.”
A fast start in the Shark Tank might be easier said than done. San Jose is playing its third games in four nights but has won three in a row and will have a rested Antti Niemi in goal. Expect Tomas Vokoun to get his fifth straight start, given that he has a .956 save percentage in his past four – all wins.
“Getting over their building real quick,” said winger Troy Brouwer, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks. “It’s a tough building to play in; it’s very intimidating and you’ve got to come in, you’ve got to have a good start because they’ve got a very skilled, very fast team.”