Alexander Korolyuk took advantage of a small opening to create a big goal.
Korolyuk scored with 15 minutes left in the third period and Steve Shields stopped 26 shots as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 Sunday night to extend their unbeaten streak to three games.
Shields continued to lead the NHL in save percentage (.946) and wins (8) as the Sharks, off to their best start in franchise history with their first ever winning October, moved into a first-place tie with Phoenix in the Pacific Division.
Steve Konowalchuk scored for Washington, 0-5-1 in its last six games, all against Western Conference opponents. The Capitals, off to their worst start in six years, are 5-25-3 against the Western Conference over the past two years.
"We worked hard and probably deserved a batter fate," said Washington coach Ron Wilson. "We've wasted a couple of good efforts from our goaltenders. It's a hard way to lose a game when we keep grinding and get caught a little bit out of position."
Korolyuk scored the game-winner after Niklas Sundstrom skated behind the net to collect a loose puck and didn't have a lot of room to pass it. He somehow got it to Korolyuk in the slot, and he beat Capitals goalie Craig Billington to the near post.
"I could see (Sundstrom) was able to backhand it to me," said Korolyuk. "It was a nice pass and I put the shot up high to the short side."
Ron Sutter, who played his 1,000th career game at Washington on Oct. 16, netted his 200th career goal on a rebound to open the San Jose scoring at 7:37 of the first period.
"The puck was just laying there," said Sutter. "I don't know if he thought he had it covered up or we just beat him there. I got a stick on it and put it underneath."
It was Sutter's first goal since Nov. 4, 1998, against Dallas, a scoreless streak of 64 games.
Billington, who was acquired on July 19 for future considerations, hasn't won since beating the Sharks as a member of the Colorado Avalanche on March 31.
"It was a tight game going into the third period and that's a good position to be in," said Billington. "Unfortunately we're not getting over the hump to translate that into points."
Konowalchuk tied the game for Washington with his third goal of the season. On a power play, Calle Johansson's shot bounced off Shields' pads and Richard Zednik's skates. Konowalchuk picked it up in the slot and backhanded it inside the far post before Shields could recover.
Billington had 20 saves.
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