Samsonov posts back-to-back shutouts as Capitals beat Sharks 4-0

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Samsonov posts back-to-back shutouts as Capitals beat Sharks 4-0 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals stayed in the win column out west with a 4-0 win over the Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose. It was the team's second-straight shutout victory, as they moved to 2-0-1 on the West Coast road trip. 

With the win, the Capitals moved to 11-2-5 on the season and have now registered at least a point in seven straight games. They'll conclude the road trip on Sunday with the team's first-ever matchup against the Kraken in Seattle.

Here are a few takeaways from the Capitals’ win over the Sharks:

Ilya Samsonov shines again

After his shutout performance Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings, the Capitals and coach Peter Laviolette turned to Ilya Samsonov for the second game in a row. And once again, Samsonov was excellent.

He shut out the Sharks to earn his second-straight victory without allowing a goal, as his impressive play of the last two-plus games continued. Samsonov gave up two goals in the second period in just 22 seconds against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 12, and has since slammed the door on every shot he's faced. He's now saved all 71 of the shots he's faced since that stretch in Columbus.

He is the first Capitals goalie since Braden Holtby in 2017 to notch back-to-back shutouts.

With Samsonov playing the best hockey he's played this season, he's certainly making the goaltending battle with Vitek Vanecek an incredibly interesting one.

Sheary keeps scoring

Conor Sheary opened the scoring for the Capitals just 2:17 into the first period with his fourth goal of the season. He beat the defense up the left wing and snapped a shot five-hole on Sharks goalie Adin Hill to give the Capitals a lead early on.

Then, with 4:50 left to play and the team up 2-0, he struck again as he deflected a shot en route to the net, then while falling, put the loose puck through Hill's legs once again to put the dagger in the Sharks.

Sheary's goals gave him four in the last five games, as his recent outburst has come at a time when the team has gotten necessary depth scoring absent some of their top scorers. And as it turned out, his first goal ended up being the winner in another shutout for the Capitals. 

Capitals getting healthier

The Capitals inched closer to a full lineup Saturday as center Nic Dowd and winger T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup. Both had been out and on injured reserve with lower-body injuries. 

It was Dowd’s 10th game of the season and first since Nov. 8 against the Buffalo Sabres. Oshie played in his eighth game of the season and first since Oct. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings.

With those two back in the lineup, the Capitals got a closer look at what a full complement of forwards would look like. Oshie skated with Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby on the second line and Dowd took his usual spot on the fourth line with Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway.

The team is still without centers Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and Lars Eller (COVID-19 protocols) as well as winger Anthony Mantha (shoulder). But for now, the team is slowly getting healthier.

Alex Ovechkin keeps climbing

Another game, another day closer to a milestone for Alex Ovechkin. With a powerplay goal in the first period, Ovechkin tallied his 13th goal of the season, his 743rd all-time and his 272nd career powerplay goal. 

And with the team up 3-0 late and the Sharks' net empty, he scored once again for his 14th goal in 18 games.

He’s now just 22 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list and just two powerplay markers away from tying Dave Andreychuk for the most powerplay goals in NHL history. 

Ovechkin is second in the league in goals, behind only Leon Draisaitl who has 18 on the season.