Columbus Blue Jackets (29-23-5) at San Jose Sharks (36-16-6), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to complete their
pre-Olympic schedule on a positive note when they visit the San Jose Sharks
for Friday's clash at SAP Center.
Columbus has been red-hot since the beginning of January, going 12-4-1 since
the calendar flipped to 2014. The Blue Jackets, however, had a three-game
winning streak halted their last time out, as they dropped Thursday's 2-1
overtime decision in Los Angeles.
The Blue Jackets scored their only goal just 1:40 into the first period on
Thursday. Los Angeles evened the score early in the third period on a goal
from Jake Muzzin and Robyn Regehr tallied 2:33 into OT to help the Kings halt
a four-game losing streak.
"I think they played really hard. There wasn't a lot of space out there,"
Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I think they checked well I thought we
checked well. It was an intense physical game and we knew that coming in and I
thought we were going to get tested here in this building and I'm real happy
with the way the guys came out and played the game."
Friday's contest marks the third stop on a four-game swing. The final portion
of the trip won't be played until the Blue Jackets visit New Jersey on Feb.
27, when the NHL returns from its break for this year's Winter Games in Sochi,
Columbus, which are 13-12-3 as the guest this season, enters Friday tied with
Ottawa for the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and both clubs are just
one point in back of Detroit for the East's eighth and final playoff spot.
Both the Senators and Red Wings are off on Friday before closing their pre-
Olympic schedules on Saturday,
The Blue Jackets also could qualify for the postseason by finishing in the
top-three in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus is currently one point behind
the third-place Philadelphia Flyers, who are off on Friday before hosting
Calgary on Saturday afternoon.
Columbus has fared well against the Sharks recently and hopes to continue that
trend in the first of two meetings between the clubs in 2013-14. After
sweeping the three-game series last season, the Blue Jackets have won four in
a row and six of the past 10 meetings overall.
San Jose, however, has taken 13 of the last 15 encounters at the Shark Tank.
After ending January on an 0-3-0 slide, the Sharks have won two of three to
begin the new month. San Jose hopes to get three wins during its four-game
homestand when it plays its final test before the Olympics tonight.
The Sharks opened February with a 2-1 shootout win over Chicago on Saturday,
but then dropped a 5-2 decision to Philadelphia on Monday to fall to 1-1 on
San Jose, which is running second to Anaheim in the Pacific Division, was able
to rebound on Wednesday by recording a 2-1 overtime victory against Dallas.
Tommy Wingels scored 1:52 into overtime to lift the Sharks to victory and
award them the extra point.
Marty Havlat had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who improved to 21-4-3
at home this season. Alex Stalock stopped 19-of-20 shots.
"I thought we played much better both zones," Havlat said.
Havlat set up the game-winner in overtime. He made a nice backhand pass from
the side of the net to Wingels, who banged it in for his 11th goal of the
San Jose forward Matt Nieto suffered a bruised foot after blocking a shot in
the second period and did not return. Nieto, who has six goals and nine
assists in 46 games as a rookie, is questionable for Friday's game.
In other news for the Sharks, Todd McLellan will set a franchise record this
evening by coaching his 435th career game behind the San Jose bench. Current
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter held the previous record of 434 games.
McLellan is already the club's all-time leader in wins with 256.
02/07 10:52:57 ET
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