WASHINGTON — Big John Scott, all 6-foot-8 of him, got the puck in the neutral zone and turned on whatever afterburners he has, skating to the left circle to put one underneath the crossbar for only the third goal of his NHL career.
“Johnny there, who knew he had that speed?” teammate Tommy Wingels said.
Scott and Matt Irwin were unlikely goal-scorers Tuesday night as the previously stingy San Jose Sharks finally sprung a leak or two, blowing a pair of three-goal leads before coming away with a 6-5 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals.
Joe Pavelski scored the only goal in the shootout as the Sharks won their third straight to open the season. The difference this time was that San Jose didn’t get a shutout, its clean slate coming to an end at 142 minutes, 51 seconds when Washington scored early in the second period.
“Right now, we’re a team that’s winning and needs a lot of work,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “And I guess that’s a good thing, when you’re not playing as well as you’d like in a lot of areas but you’re still winning games.”
Irwin and Scott, both scratches in San Jose’s first two games, matched their respective goal outputs from all of last season in their first period on the ice this season. Irwin scored twice, and Scott netted once to make the score 3-0 before the game was 10 minutes old to chase Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
Scott, better known as an enforcer, had two goals in 236 games with four teams before joining the Sharks this season. Unused to the attention, he patted down his hair to make sure it looked OK as he walked up to reporters after a game in which he played fewer than seven minutes. Earlier in the day, at the morning skate, he had joked that he wouldn’t have trouble getting up to speed because he didn’t have much.
“I was just trying to sell it,” Scott said with a laugh. “I thought maybe Washington’s coaches were watching, and it obviously worked.”
Pavelski and Tommy Wingels also scored in regulation, and Antti Niemi made 29 saves for the Sharks, who also led 4-1 in the second period and 5-3 late in the third before Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer scored 1:16 apart to tie the game with 4:35 remaining in regulation.
“The first period I didn’t like at all,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I just didn’t like our commitment. We were a pass-first team in a shoot-first league in the first period.”
Marcus Johansson, Mike Green and Ovechkin all scored in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second period to start the Capitals’ rally. Ovechkin has four goals in three games this season.
Justin Peters stopped two of 16 shots in his Capitals debut, coming on after Holtby allowed three goals on seven shots.
A high-scoring game wasn’t supposed to be in the cards, given that the two teams combined had allowed just one non-shootout goal so far in the young season. The Sharks became the first NHL team to get consecutive shutouts from different goaltenders to start the season, with Niemi winning the opener and Alex Stalock following up in Game 2.
But Irwin, who had two goals in 62 games last season, nailed a slap shot off a faceoff and put in a rebound with two seconds remaining on a power play make to give the Sharks a quick two-goal lead. It was only the second power-play goal for the Sharks this season and the first allowed by the Capitals.
And, like Scott, Irwin made the impact a player wants after getting scratched for a pair of games.
“That’s the exact response that you need to show up with,” McLellan said. “And it’s not just about the goals. It’s the way he played the whole night.”
Notes: Sharks D Scott Hannan played in his 1,000th NHL game. He’s the 291st player and 97th defenseman to reach the milestone. … San Jose opened a stretch of 16 of 21 games on the road, with two East Coast trips before Thanksgiving. … Capitals Ds Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were on the ice for all four of San Jose’s even-strength goals.