WASHINGTON — Logan Couture needed a new stick for overtime.
So convinced the San Jose Sharks were heading toward another loss, Couture went to the bench and broke his stick over the boards. Then he looked up and saw Evander Kane score the tying goal with one second left. Minutes later, Tomas Hertl completed his hat trick in overtime to beat the Washington Capitals 7-6 Tuesday night.
Hertl went hat trick-for-hat trick with Alex Ovechkin, scoring 1:48 into the extra period to snap the Sharks’ losing streak at three and send them into a 10-day break on a high note.
“All the guys in here could’ve easily looked forward to tomorrow and our break, but we decided to play hard for the third and found a way to tie it up and win it,” Couture said after the Sharks erased a two-goal deficit in the third period. “Pretty wild to be able to tie that up there. Just a big-time goal and Herts to complete the hat trick was awesome there.”
San Jose has allowed six goals in each of its past four games, and goaltender Martin Jones wasn’t at his best in giving up six on 39 shots this time. But he made two big saves in overtime to keep the game going.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals have lost six in a row for the first time since the 2013-14 season, the last time they missed the playoffs. All-Star goalie Braden Holtby fought the puck at times in allowing seven goals on 43 shots.
“That’s not the way we need to play to win hockey games,” Holtby said. “We obviously haven’t been winning much lately. The solution isn’t to open up the game and go chance-for-chance. It’s a reality check. This is not good enough to win. From me, from all of us.”
Ovechkin, who scored goal Nos. 34, 35 and 36 to pad his NHL-leading total, took the blame for the loss for failing to make the right play with 20 seconds left and the Sharks’ net empty. Ovechkin’s shot attempt went off defenceman Brent Burns, and San Jose went the other way.
“Tough loss,” Ovechkin said. “It was my mistake at the end of the game. I tried to make a rush play. Have to be better in this situation.”
Ovechkin’s hat trick was his third this season and 23rd of his career, and he has sole possession of 14th on the career list with 643 goals. That bit of history was not enough to get Washington out of its funk.
Although Joe Pavelski scored 12 seconds in, the Capitals took the lead midway through the first period and the Sharks were at their best playing from behind. Hertl scored twice on the power play, and his second goal kept San Jose in it with Jones pulled for an extra skater.
After Couture went to the bench for a line change, his teammates got the puck into the zone and Kane managed to tap it in past Holtby with a second left on the clock. Kane had no doubt the puck was in before the buzzer, even though it showed 0.0 on the scoreboard.
“Just wanted to forecheck the puck hard and try to get it to the front of the net somehow,” Kane said. “We got in there, Pavs was able to pick it up, threw it at the end. Just desperate attempt, and it found its way to the backdoor.”
Pavelski and Hertl each had four points in what coach Peter DeBoer likened to an East Coast All-Star Game five days early. It wasn’t an effort the Sharks were proud of, but after a rough road trip, they’ll take it.
“We get it done, and the biggest thing is we get two big points before the bye week because it’s nice, a better feeling to fly back home before the break,” said Hertl, who has 22 goals this season. “I’m happy for the whole team because everybody put their everything.”
NOTES: Couture scored his 19th goal on a 3-on-0 rush. … Pavelski’s goal matched the third-fastest to start a game in Sharks history. … Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for Washington. Kuznetsov’s goal was just his second at 5-on-5 this season. …Two-time Norris Trophy-winning Sharks D Erik Karlsson returned to California for further tests on his lower-body injury. Karlsson missed the past three games but is still a candidate to take part in All-Star Weekend in San Jose. … Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed his ninth consecutive game with a wrist injury.
Sharks: Get a long layoff with the All-Star break and bye week before hosting the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 2.
Capitals: Face a short turnaround in visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.