WASHINGTON - Joe Pavelski had two goals and two assists against a goalie playing in the NHL for the first time in nearly a year, leading the Sharks past the Capitals 5-3 Monday night, San Jose's 16th victory in its last 17 games against Washington.
Patrick Marleau added two goals, and Brent Burns also scored on Braden Holtby, who was brought up from Hershey of the American Hockey League earlier Monday to make a surprise start for Washington — something he hadn't done since last March. Washington's No. 1 goalie, Tomas Vokoun, was ill, and No. 2 Michal Neuvirth played Sunday in a loss at the New York Rangers.
Joe Thornton collected three assists for the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, and Thomas Greiss made 39 saves.
San Jose had lost three of its previous four games.
Washington has won only three of its last 11, a stretch of futility that not only dropped the Capitals out of first place in the Southeast Division but also pushed them below the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference.
The first goal Greiss gave up came on rookie defenceman Dmitry Orlov's slap shot from just inside the blue line in the final second of the second period. Both teams stayed on their benches while video was reviewed to confirm that the puck crossed the line before time ran out.
By then, though, San Jose already led 3-0, thanks mainly to Pavelski.
The Sharks went ahead 12:12 into the game on a bit of a fluky score after going about eight minutes without even registering a single shot on goal. Indeed, they were coming off a power play during which the best chance — and only official shot — for either team came when Capitals forward Brooks Laich bore down 1-on-1 during a short-handed breakaway but Greiss made the save.
A little more than 1 1/2 minutes later, defenceman Dan Boyle struck a shot from beyond the red line. The puck deflected off Pavelski's stick, bounced off the ice, then trickled off Holtby's glove and into the net to make it 1-0 for the visitors. Pavelski was credited with his 21st goal of the season.
He got No. 22 in the second period on a far-more-usual goal, this time on the power play. With Laich in the penalty box for cross-checking, Logan Couture centred the puck right in front of the net for Pavelski, who lifted a shot over Holtby's glove and into the upper corner at the 3:26 mark of the second, making it 2-0.
Pavelski was credited with an assist when his shot was redirected by Marleau at the 16:11 mark of the second period, when the puck appeared to hit Holtby in the right shoulder on its way past him.
Third-period goals by Burns and Marleau put San Jose ahead 5-1, before defencemen Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz scored for Washington in the last 9 1/2 minutes.
NOTES: Capitals F Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. ... In addition to Holtby, the Capitals also recalled F Joel Rechlicz from Hershey. He played and drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the second period. ... Sharks C Tommy Wingels returned to action. He had been on injured reserve with an upper body injury and hadn't played since Jan. 19. "We'll expect him to give us some fresh legs and some enthusiasm and a little bit of a spark, if you will," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said.