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Reimer, Sharks beat Capitals 4-1 to snap 2-game skid

James Reimer made 32 saves, Jonathan Dahlen scored in one of his dad's old home arenas and the San Jose Sharks beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Reimer stopped Alex Ovechkin eight times and was San Jose's best penalty killer when Washington came up empty on four power plays.

Noah Gregor scored his second goal of the season and Nicolas Meloche had the first of his NHL career to help get the Sharks’ four-game East Coast trip off on the right foot. San Jose kept pace in the Western Conference playoff race, moving within three points of Anaheim, which sits in second place in the Pacific Division.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche, center, celebrates his goal against the Washington Capitals with teammates Matt Nieto, left, and Andrew Cogliano during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. At right is Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)

Dahlen scored to make it 3-1 with 3:09 left, his second goal in 22 games. His father, Ulf Dahlen, played two seasons from 1999-2001 for the Capitals late in his NHL career.

Andrew Cogliano sealed it with an empty-netter with 21 seconds left. San Jose's Jonah Gadjovich and Washington's Garnet Hathaway dropped the gloves for a lengthy fight at the buzzer.

The Capitals' struggles continued, losing back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season. They've lost eight of their past 11, smarting from the absence of top-six winger T.J. Oshie and unable to cash in on quality scoring opportunities.

San Jose Sharks center Noah Gregor (73) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)

In his first game back after being a healthy scratch the previous three, Daniel Sprong scored Washington's only goal 14 seconds into the third period to cut San Jose's lead in half. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves on 29 shots in his first start since Jan. 15, when he allowed three goals in a loss to Vancouver, and stayed in the game after a collision with 6:22 left in the third.

Reimer was sharp when tested at the other end, and the Sharks were opportunistic offensively. Gregor's goal came on a tap-in off a spinning pass from No. 1 defenseman Brent Burns, and Meloche scored off the rush following a Capitals turnover in the neutral zone.

Meloche became the sixth Sharks rookie to score his first NHL goal this season. Burns has 16 points in 18 games against Washington while with San Jose.

Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (6) defends San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche (53) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)

NOTES: Sharks forward Rudolfs Balcers missed a third consecutive game because he was not yet cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol. ... Coach Bob Boughner said defenseman Erik Karlsson could miss anywhere from eight to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a small muscle tear in his left forearm. ... Defenseman Ryan Merkley was a healthy scratch for San Jose. ... Sprong replaced rookie Connor McMichael in Washington's lineup.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche (53) and Washington Capitals left wing Conor Sheary (73) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)

Capitals: Face 2018 Stanley Cup-winning goalie Braden Holtby for the first time since he left in free agency when they visit the Dallas Stars on Friday.

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche (53) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)

San Jose Sharks defenseman Nicolas Meloche, center, celebrates his goal with teammates Matt Nieto, left, and Andrew Cogliano during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Washington. (AP PhotoEvan Vucci)