- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Barry Trotz delivered a stern warning to the Washington Capitals early Tuesday. The San Jose Sharks can be an aggressive team at the start of the game, so fundamental caution and sound play would need to be at a premium for the opening 10 minutes.

That message, apparently, did not get through. The Sharks scored three goals in that timeframe, and despite being dragged to a shootout after a ferocious third-period rally, they topped the Capitals, 6-5, at Verizon Center.

“I’m sure it drove Barry crazy, because he emphasized [that],” said defenseman Mike Green. “He obviously knows them. He played against them for however many years — 16, 17 years — so he knew, and we’re not familiar. We needed to come out stronger and play a faster game.”

Joe Pavelski, who scored in the second period, had the only goal in the shootout for San Jose (3-0). Defenseman Matt Irwin added two goals, right wing John Scott and center Tommy Wingels each had a goal and Antti Niemi had 29 saves for the Sharks, who had blanked the first two opponents they played this season and appeared well on the way to doing it a third consecutive time considering the way they played in the first period.

Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of goals for the Capitals (1-0-2) for the second consecutive game, marking the 11th time in his career the winger has had consecutive multi-goal games. Green, Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer also scored for Washington, and goalie Justin Peters, in his Capitals debut, had 14 saves in 55:26 after replacing Braden Holtby.

While the Capitals gradually pulled themselves out of an early hole, the three-goal deficit was crippling.

Irwin and Scott, each of whom were healthy scratches in the Sharks‘ first two games, were responsible for the scoring over the first 9:34. Irwin scored twice in the first 4:36, while Scott, who entered with only two goals in 236 career games, scored five minutes later off a defensive zone turnover to drive Holtby from the game.

The Sharks‘ season-opening shutout streak ended after nearly 143 minutes when Johansson tapped in a power-play goal from just in front of the net. Though Pavelski added a goal 5:27 into the period to increase the Sharks‘ lead to 4-1, Green and Ovechkin scored a pair of goals within 34 seconds of each other to cut San Jose’s advantage to one.

And while Wingels scored 1:37 into the third period — moments after players said Trotz gave a motivating speech at intermission to spur them — Ovechkin responded with a power-play goal 14:09 into the period and Brouwer provided the equalizer, his first goal of the season, with fewer than five minutes remaining.

Washington also benefitted with a shuffling of its defensive pairings, with Trotz opting to couple Green with Brooks Orpik and John Carlson with Nate Schmidt five minutes into the period after Orpik and Carlson were on the ice for all five goals.

“You’ve got to commend us for coming back, because we definitely had a slow start,” Green said. “You know, we can’t be doing that. We realize how we have to play to be successful, and it took us about a period to figure it out.”

A nearly whistle-free overtime yielded few opportunities, leading to the Capitals‘ second shootout in as many home games. Pavelski netted netted a wrister to the top right corner in the second round, which proved to be enough for San Jose. After misses by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Eric Fehr’s shot went high and wide of the net.

“We got a point, and we could sit here and go, ‘We should have zero points tonight, and we got one,’” Trotz said. “I look at it as, we could very easily be 3-0 instead of 1-0-2, but at the same time, you’re still collecting points, and that might be a huge point down the road. If we can get four points out of every three games, we’re going to end up with a lot of points at the end of the year.”

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