In a wild back-and-forth battle in the nation's capital, the San Jose Sharks scored the tying goal in the final second of the third period to send the game to overtime, and Tomas Hertl completed a hat trick to beat the Washington Capitals in the extra period 7-6.
Fans probably weren’t expecting a goal-scoring clinic when the Sharks and Capitals met up for the first time this season, but it turned into a frenzy, as the teams went back and forth for the good part of 60 minutes.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' last game before the break:
The defense struggled again: Neither the Sharks nor the Capitals were particularly successful at breaking up plays in their own end, which didn’t give either starting netminder much help. Braden Holtby and Martin Jones didn't exactly do themselves a lot of favors, though, as they weren’t particularly good at preventing rebounds.
Nevertheless, this is an aspect of San Jose’s game that has suffered as of late, and can't be entirely attributed to top members of their blue line being sidelined with injury. The Sharks’ overall defense was stellar before they went on this road trip. They have to get back to that way of playing heading down the stretch toward the playoffs.
Special teams produce: Neither team’s special teams were particularly consistent -- Washington gave up a 3-on-0 for crying out loud. San Jose’s improved as the game went on, as Logan Couture scored a short-handed goal in the second stanza, and Tomas Hertl found the back of the net on the man advantage in the third.
While the short-handed goal proved to be crucial, the Sharks' penalty kill still has to be better when play resumes out of the All-Star break. San Jose had the second-best kill in the league earlier in the season. That’s a level they need to return to if they’re going to get back in the win column on a regular basis.
Defensive identity: Even though the Sharks won Tuesday’s game, they can't be happy with how many goals they gave up. Six goals in four straight games? The Sharks haven't done that since 1995, and it’s not the mark of a sound defensive club. This team has to play a tighter game, and getting a little time off could help them reset and do just that.
After the All-Star break, the Sharks' travel schedule is more forgiving than it has been up to this point in the season. Plus, San Jose should get a couple injured players back and healthy. They've stumbled a bit going into the long break, but all they can do at this point is look ahead to how they can be better after the 10-day bye.