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Couture leads Sharks past Washington Capitals
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SAN JOSE (AP) — Logan Couture scored twice, Brent Burns recorded three assists and all anyone wanted to talk about was the new guy in the lineup.

Jannik Hansen got an assist in his first game since joining San Jose, helping the Sharks beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Thursday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of their last six games.

San Jose acquired Hansen in a Feb. 28 trade with Vancouver. He has six goals and eight assists in 29 games this season.

“It felt like we were playing with him for a long time, it really did,” Pavelski said. “He just went, and just went hard. Made a lot of plays. His speed, playing on the inside, allowed us to keep a few pucks alive.”

Thornton felt getting Hansen involved early was the key.

“Usually your first game you’re probably going to have so much jitters, and he probably hadn’t skated for so long, too,” Thornton said. “It’s nice to get him on the scoresheet early. His penalty killing tonight was huge. He had a great game.”

Daniel Winnick and Brett Connolly scored for the NHL-leading Capitals, who lost their second straight since winning five of six.

“We haven’t lost two in a row for a while and it does seem a little awkward,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “But this group is great and we’ll see how they respond in L.A.”

Martin Jones had 25 saves and improved to 31-16-6. Braden Holtby stopped 20 shots for Washington, dropping to 34-10-5.

The Capitals jumped in front in the first when Winnick took a pass from Jay Beagle, carried it across the crease and flipped it past Jones.

“We let the game get away from us,” Winnick said. “Even after it was tied 2-2, it seemed like they had control of us the whole night.”

Thornton tied it with his sixth of the season at 8:43. Hansen found him open in front of the net for the easy score.

Pavelski put the Sharks ahead early in the second period. He redirected a Burns shot into the net.

Connelly tied it again with a flip shot over Jones’ left shoulder after taking a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk.

“They got a few power-play goals and they got a few kills and we didn’t,” Connelly said. “That’s kind of the story of the game I think.”

The Capitals went 0 for 5 on the power play, and Hansen was a big reason for that.

“It was obviously a challenge,” Hansen said. “It’s always nice to get the first game out of the way. I’m not a power-play guy, I’m not a setup guy. I play in the trenches in front of the net, killing penalties, digging pucks out.”

Couture’s game-winner also followed a Burns shot. Holtby was unable to hang on and Couture reacted quickly in putting the Sharks up with less than two minutes remaining in the second period.

Couture and Burns teamed up again midway through the third period on another redirect in front of the net. It was Couture’s 23rd of the season.

NOTES: Winnick scored his first goal in nine games and recorded his second point over that span. ... The Sharks have recorded at least one point in 10 of their last 11 games. ... Burns has recorded 13 points over his last 10 games.


Capitals: Play at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Sharks: Host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.