Caps need ‘better effort from the top guys,’ says one of their top guys

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The Washington Capitals may have won four of their last five and put themselves right back in the playoff picture, but not all of them are satisfied with how they’re playing.

“I think something that the first two lines need to do is look at our third line,” center Nicklas Backstrom said, per the Washington Post.

“They’re cycling the puck, and off that they create chances. I think our first lines haven’t been doing that, not the whole year. That’s something we need to do. We’ve been talking about it but we need a better effort from the top guys for sure.”

In a related story, CSN Washington notes that the Caps have been winning despite a lack of goals from one Alex Ovechkin, who has just three tallies — all of them on the power play — in his last 11 games.

No doubt, some of that has to do with coach Adam Oates’ decision to move grinding center Jay Beagle — he of the 14 career assists — onto Ovechkin’s line.

But there was a reason Oates did that:

Before he was united with Beagle, Ovechkin was a minus player in nine straight games for a combined minus-14. In his last three games he’s been even on the plus-minus sheet, which means he’s not watching other teams score, a problem evidenced by his minus-31 rating.

The Caps host Los Angeles tonight before welcoming the Bruins to town Saturday.

With Toronto in collapse mode, Columbus treading water, and Detroit still badly banged up, there’s renewed optimism in DC, regardless of how the wins are being earned.

Video: Haley given match penalty for sucker punch, Sharks lose sixth straight

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Things continue to snowball out of control for the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks lost their sixth consecutive game after yet another blowout defeat, this time by a final score of 7-2 versus the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Forward Logan Couture lost a tooth after taking a puck to the face in the second period.

And late in the game, Micheal Haley was given a match penalty for an incident involving Calle Jarnkrok.

The Sharks forward is now automatically suspended until commissioner Gary Bettman reviews the incident.

This incident occurred when Haley was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok. Haley then got up, sped right toward the Predators forward, dropped his gloves and delivered a punch to Jarnkrok as he tried to back away, knocking him to the ice.

Jarnkrok was given a minor penalty for boarding.

Haley was also involved in a fight with Cody McLeod early in the first period.

This has been a particularly shocking, if not embarrassing stretch for the Sharks. In a two-game trip to Dallas and Nashville, against teams below them in the standings, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

Martin Jones allowed seven goals on 34 shots faced.

If Edmonton wins tonight, the Sharks, Ducks and Oilers will be in a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Division.

Related: What is wrong with the Sharks?

Video: Logan Couture loses tooth after taking a puck to the face

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More bad news for the San Jose Sharks.

After a slow start against the Nashville Predators during Saturday’s game, forward Logan Couture was hurt in the dying seconds of the middle period after taking a puck to the face while battling in front of the net.

Replays show Couture appeared to lose a tooth. He quickly skated off the ice and to the dressing room.

Bruins snap four-game skid with crucial win over Islanders

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The Boston Bruins have been trending in the wrong direction of late — once again at the worst possible time with the end of the regular season in sight and a playoff spot on the line.

They entered a massive clash with the New York Islanders on Saturday having lost four straight, temporarily falling out of a playoff spot because of fewer games played.

They didn’t have Tuukka Rask in net because of a lower-body injury. They were on the road. They fell behind the Islanders early in the first period.

Despite that, the Bruins quickly came back on a goal from Riley Nash, who scored again in the third period to help his team to a 2-1 victory.

The four-game losing streak? Gone. With seven games remaining, Boston is back in the final wild card spot, two points ahead of the Islanders, who do still have a game in hand.

“We have a great mood in here this morning, everyone’s excited and pretty light and there’s no tense feel,” said Brad Marchand prior to facing the Islanders.

Back-up goaltending has been a concern in Boston this season, however Anton Khudobin shut the door after the Tavares goal, making 18 saves for the win.

The Bruins host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Video: After blowout loss in Dallas, struggling Sharks off to slow start vs. Predators

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Last night, we asked: What is wrong with the San Jose Sharks?

Well, a day later, with the Sharks looking to avoid a sixth straight loss, the struggle continues.

After a blowout loss last night against the Dallas Stars, the Sharks have fallen behind the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0 after the opening period.

Colton Sissons opened the scoring for Nashville.

It didn’t get any better for the Sharks.

Roman Josi walked right around Brent Burns, hitting the cross bar with his shot. Cody McLeod was right there for the tap-in to increase Nashville’s lead.