Joe Pavelski scores winner; Sharks beat NHL-best Capitals

Joe Pavelski scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the opening minute of the third period and Martin Jones stopped a key penalty shot to help the San Jose Sharks beat the Washington Capitals 5-2

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Joe Pavelski scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the opening minute of the third period and Martin Jones stopped a key penalty shot to help the San Jose Sharks beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Saturday night.

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Brenden Dillon also scored to help San Jose move within one point of Anaheim for second place in the Pacific Division. Brent Burns added an empty-netter to seal the win.

Jones made 23 saves, including a poke check on the penalty shot against Jay Beagle with 13 seconds remaining in the second period. Because Brent Burns’ slash was a penalty shot and not a minor penalty, the Sharks were able to start the third period on the power play.

That proved crucial when Thornton fed Pavelski near the side of the net. Pavelski then beat Philipp Grubauer with a backhand for his 32nd goal of the season to give the Sharks the lead for good.

Dillon scored his second of the season just over 2 minutes later on a shot from the point to help San Jose bounce back from a lacklustre 3-0 home loss to New Jersey on Thursday night with a win against the NHL’s top team.

T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams scored for the Capitals, who missed an opportunity to become the first team to clinch a playoff berth. Grubauer made 23 saves as Washington ended a three-game California swing with three points.

The Capitals once again found themselves having to play from behind when Grubauer struggled to handle Brenden Dillon’s point shot and Thornton lifted the rebound into the net midway through the first. Washington has been outscored 8-0 in the first period the past five games but took little time to erase the deficit thanks to sloppy play from the Sharks.

Burns carelessly shot the puck over the glass while under no pressure for a delay of game penalty in the opening minute of the second period to give Washington’s top-ranked power play 1:27 of a two-man advantage. The Capitals took advantage when Nicklas Backstrom slid a cross-ice pass to Oshie, who one-timed his 21st goal to match his career best and tie the game at 1.

The Sharks quickly found themselves short-handed again a few minutes later when Dmitry Orlov misplayed a puck at the blue line, sending San Jose on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Joel Ward fed Marleau for the goal to put San Jose back ahead.

The Capitals tied the game midway through the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov set up Williams for an easy tap-in goal.

NOTES: Marleau scored 20 goals in a season for the 13th time, passing last season’s total by one. … Thornton reached the 50 assist mark for the 10th team in his career with his pass that set up Pavelski’s goal. … Washington D Nate Schmidt returned after being a healthy scratch the past two games and Taylor Chorney sat out.