Washington (30-18-10) at San Jose (31-21-6)

By JEFF MEZYDLO, STATS Senior Writer Thursday, Feb 17, 2011 Puck Drop: 10:30 pm EST Thu Feb 17, 2011

A much-needed offensive breakout helped the Washington Capitals snap their latest skid. They will need all of the momentum earned from that victory to help win in San Jose for the first time in more than 17 years.

The Capitals look to end their woes in northern California on Thursday night while trying to avenge last week’s home loss to the Sharks.

Alexander Semin(notes) snapped a 17-game goal drought with his seventh career hat trick as Washington (30-18-10) ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-6 win at Anaheim.

“It could be a game that gets us out of the kind of spell we were in,” said forward Mike Knuble(notes), who also had a goal.

Semin recorded 18 goals with three hat tricks in the Capitals’ first 25 games, but hadn’t scored since Nov. 28, while missing 15 games with injuries.

Alex Ovechkin(notes) added a goal with an assist as the Capitals scored four more goals than they totaled the previous three contests. Washington has scored more than three goals three times in 22 games.

“It’s good for us,” said David Steckel, who found the back of the net for the first time since Dec. 26. “(There was) a little more sense of urgency.”

The Capitals might need that same approach while trying for their first win at San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993. Washington has gone 0-9-0 with a tie on the road against the Sharks since then.

Ending that drought might be difficult if the Capitals can’t improve play in their own zone. Semyon Varlamov(notes) and Michal Neuvirth(notes) each allowed three goals and combined for only 15 saves while getting little help up front Wednesday.

Washington hopes to put forth a similar defensive effort, but with more offense than it displayed during a 2-0 home loss to the Sharks (31-21-6) on Feb. 8. Ovechkin and Semin combined for seven shots, but the Capitals lost for the 13th time in 14 games to San Jose.

Ovechkin, however, has a goal and an assist in his last two games at San Jose. Semin has just one goal in five career games against the Sharks.

Currently fifth in the crowded Western Conference, San Jose is 10-2-1 following a six-game losing streak.

Patrick Marleau(notes) scored at 3:53 of overtime to lift the Sharks to a 2-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday. That helped San Jose avoid a third straight loss and go 5-2-0 on a season-high seven-game road trip.

Though Marleau has three goals and two assists his last four games overall, he’s been held without a point in three straight versus Washington.

Devin Setoguchi(notes), who has a goal and three assists in four games against the Capitals, also scored Tuesday to snap a three-game stretch without a point.

“I thought Setoguchi played one of his better games in a long time,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Antti Niemi(notes) stopped 30 shots against the Predators, and has a 1.57 GAA while winning five of seven. He made 25 saves and recorded his fourth shutout of the season at Washington last week.

San Jose’s Logan Couture(notes) became the first rookie with seven game-winning goals on the road in one season last week against the Capitals. He’s been held to one assist in four games since then.

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Thursday, Feb 17