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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 31st (All times eastern)

San Jose Sharks (14-9-11-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (9-20-4-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks try to extend their unbeaten streak to six games tonight when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

San Jose is 4-0-1 in its last five and has moved atop the very competitive Pacific Division. With 42 points, the Sharks are one ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the race.

On Monday, Nils Ekman scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead the Sharks to a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion. Marco Sturm added a goal and an assist for San Jose, and Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored. Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves in the 800th career game for head coach Ron Wilson.

Marleau extended his point streak to six games -- the longest current stretch in the NHL. He has six goals and two assists in that stretch.

The Sharks, 1-0-1 in their last two road games, open a four-game swing tonight and will visit Chicago on Friday.

Columbus, meanwhile, has lost two straight and is 1-8-1-2 in the last 12 games overall. The Jackets are 0-5-1-1 in their last seven home games.

On Monday, Ryan Johnson scored with 3:44 remaining in the third period to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 win over Columbus at Nationwide.

Geoff Sanderson and Todd Marchant provided the scoring for the Blue Jackets, while Marc Denis made 31 stops -- 18 in the second period. Doug MacLean's club has not won on friendly ice since December 2 against Anaheim.

Columbus' seven-game home winless skid is one game shy of the franchise record. The Jackets went 0-6-2 at Nationwide Arena from October 4 - November 9, 2001 to establish the current mark.

They will open a seven-game road trip Friday in Tampa.

San Jose went 3-1 against Columbus last season and has won five of the last six meetings. The Sharks have, however, lost three of the last five clashes in Ohio.

12/31 10:09:41 ET


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