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Backstrom scores winner in SO as Caps down Sharks
San Jose, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Nicklas Backstrom buried the game-winner in the third round of the shootout to send the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at SAP Center.
After San Jose's Logan Couture came up empty to open the shootout, Evgeny Kuznetsov beat Antti Niemi blocker side to put the Caps on top.
The next two shooters then missed, but Patrick Marleau extended the skills competition by slipping a wrister under Braden Holtby's pads.
However, Backstrom lifted a backhander over Niemi's glove at the other end, as Washington snapped an 0-11-1 skid at San Jose.
Eric Fehr and Chris Brown scored in regulation, while Holtby stopped 34 shots for the Capitals, who kept pace with the Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have 79 points, one better than the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Marleau and James Sheppard scored for the Sharks, who saw Niemi make 23 saves in the loss, their second in the last three games.
"The goals were just puck luck. Sometimes it doesn't go your way," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said of Washington's goals. "There's not much we can do about it."
Sheppard broke the 1-1 deadlock just over five minutes into the third, as he broke up a pass in his own zone and won a race to the loose disc just past the red line before converting a breakaway with a backhander under Holtby's pads to make it 2-1 at 5:07.
Brown was credited with his first NHL marker at 12:30 to bring the Capitals even. The 23-year-old center threw a shot on net from just inside the left circle that deflected off two Sharks in front before slipping past Niemi to tie the tilt at 2-2.
"It was a pretty special feeling obviously," Brown said of his first career goal. "But we got the win. That's the thing that's most important. We got the two points and kept the season alive."
Washington outshot San Jose 5-0 in overtime, but the Capitals were unable to get anything past Niemi to force the shootout.
The Sharks put themselves in a 1-0 hole 11:25 into the game when Justin Braun tried to clear the puck out from in front of his own net, but hit teammate Matt Nieto with the disc, which fluttered over Niemi. Fehr was the last Washington player to touch the puck and was credited with his 12th of the season.
Marleau pounded home a rebound amid a scrum in front with 5.6 seconds left in the first period to tie the game.
Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play ... Couture and Nieto each notched an assist for the Sharks ... Marleau scored his 30th of the season.
03/23 03:02:47 ET