The Sharks have come up with a postgame ritual, the passing of a miniature baseball bat to the player judged by his teammates to have made the key contributions to victory.

Tuesday, after a 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals that made San Jose 8-0-1 over the past nine games and 3-0 on this trip, it must have been a tough choice:

Goalie Antti Niemi, whose 25-save performance earned him a second consecutive shutout of a top Eastern Conference team, or rookie Logan Couture, whose goal 52 minutes into the game broke a scoreless tie and made him the NHL leader with eight game-winners?

The locker room chant -- "Hey, hey, hey, hey -- way to go, Nemo" -- provided the answer.

It was Niemi's fourth shutout of the season and he was quick to draw comparisons with the one that preceded it Saturday against the Boston Bruins.

"I think we kept doing what we did in Boston," Niemi said. "People kept blocking shots and playing really tight in front of the net."

And, when asked if he was starting to feel his game was where it was last season when he was in net for the Chicago Blackhawks, his answer might give pause to the rest of the NHL.

"I think I'm feeling probably better right now, feeling more patient," said Niemi, who was on the ice when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. "Last year I still hadn't played too many games in the NHL, so I feel much more comfortable now."