for this game

Niemi, Sharks shutout Capitals

Feb 9, 2011 - 5:06 AM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Logan Couture and Dan Boyle scored in the third period and Antti Niemi made 25 saves, as the San Jose Sharks remained hot with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Niemi recorded his fourth shutout of the season and second in a row, having made 26 saves in Saturday's 2-0 victory against Boston.

The Sharks won for the fourth consecutive time and continued to make gains in the race for the playoffs. They were 21-19-5 after a January 13 loss to Edmonton, but are 8-0-1 since.

"This (win streak) is exactly what we needed," said Couture. "We are not out of the playoff race yet -- this is the Western Conference, which is always very tight. There's still a lot of hockey to be played and we need to keep this rolling."

San Jose fired 36 shots at Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who stopped 34 as Washington had a two-game win streak broken.

Neuvirth made 27 saves through the first two periods, but the Sharks' pressure paid off with time winding down in regulation.

"For some reason, we didn't have a lot of jump on the ice tonight," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "When you get behind by two goals, this is what happens."

San Jose forward Ben Eager set up at the blue line of Washington's zone and, shortly after receiving the puck, found Couture streaking between Capitals defenders. Eager passed to Couture in the left circle, and Couture's quick wrister beat Neuvirth between the pads with 8:05 left.

A little more than two minutes later, Dany Heatley had the puck behind the goal line and passed to the right circle for Boyle, whose one-timer squeezed between Neuvirth and the right post.

Niemi stopped 12 shots in the third period to secure the win. Among the saves was a quick stop on Alexander Semin's shot with about five minutes left. Semin had much of the net open, but Niemi shifted over to deflect the puck with his blocker.

Game Notes

Semin returned after missing the last 12 games with a hip injury...Sharks goaltender Antero Niittymaki served as the backup to Niemi. He had been sidelined since January 13 because of a groin injury...The teams split last season's two-game series.