Sharks nip Jackets in Stockholm opener

Dave Lozo  - Staff Writer | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

STOCKHOLM -- It wasn't an artistic game by any stretch of the imagination. The San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets failed to get into any sort of rhythm during their 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere game at Globe Arena on Friday night, but there was plenty of tension in a close contest that featured a total of 17 minor penalties and two fights.

Logan Couture played the hero, scoring a power-play goal with 9:45 remaining in the third period to give the Sharks a 3-2 victory in a game that coach Todd McLellan said was more reminiscent of ping-pong than hockey.

"It was a strange game," McLellan said. "There was really nothing going on at 5-on-5, more ping-pong, pucks bouncing all over the place. Ninety-five percent of the chances came on power-play situations for both teams and we were lucky enough to get one more than they did."

Couture's first goal of the season came after Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore was called for boarding Sharks winger Jamie McGinn, who was going full-speed in an attempt to break up an icing. McGinn crashed violently into the end boards and stayed down for about a minute before leaving under his own power. McLellan said McGinn was lucky to turn his head away from the boards and absorb the impact with his shoulder. McGinn's status will be updated Saturday morning.

It took 1:39 for the Sharks to make the Jackets pay, and it all started with a brilliant backhand pass by Sharks forward Ryane Clowe from the top of the zone to Couture at the left circle. The 21-year-old wheeled to his forehand and whipped a quick shot past goaltender Steve Mason, who was screened on the play by Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi.

"We needed one on the power play," Couture said. "We had a lot of pucks to the net and Mason made some nice saves. It was just a matter of time tonight before we got one. Seto was right in front of him so I don't think he saw it."

Torrey Mitchell opened the scoring for the Sharks, beating Mason on a wraparound just 2:11 after the opening faceoff to get the crowd into the game immediately. Mitchell capitalized on a Mason turnover by receiving a pass behind the net from Joe Pavelski, who had two assists, before curling in front and catching Mason out of position.
Joe Thornton, in his first game as captain, put the Sharks up 2-0 at 10:57 of the first with a power-play goal. His long slap shot from just inside the blue line tipped the stick of Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla and went over the blocker of Mason. The Sharks were 2-for-6 on the power play with the Jackets were 1-for-7.
The Blue Jackets needed only 15 seconds late in the first period to even the score at 2-2. Kristian Huselius, a native of Osterhaninge, Sweden, and R.J. Umberger scored in rapid-fire fashion just when it looked like the Sharks were taking over the game.

Huselius gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he took a cross-ice pass from Nikita Filatov and roofed the puck over fallen goaltender Antti Niemi to cut the lead in half. Umberger tied it by following a rush by Ethan Moreau, who picked up a loose puck after a turnover by defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Niemi stopped Moreau's shot, but Umberger banged home the rebound with 2:50 left in an eventful first period.

From that point on, the goaltenders stole the spotlight.

Niemi, making his first start with the Sharks after signing in early September, shut the door. He stopped all 21 shots he faced over the final two periods and 30 overall. His toughest saves came when he sprawled to his left to stop Samuel Pahlsson and Moreau on back-to-back shots in the second period. With the Jackets pressing for the tying goal in the final minutes of the third period, Niemi did some more scrambling to keep the Sharks on top.

McLellan admitted it was nice to see Niemi doing that for his team after he helped orchestrate a sweep of the Sharks as a member of the Blackhawks in last season's Western Conference Finals.

"He was a big man in the net," said McLellan, who wouldn't name a starter for Saturday night's rematch. "There's no doubt about it -- they had a fair number of chances. He fills up a lot of the net and did what he had to do."

Mason also got his game together after a tough start, keeping the game tied at 2-2 before Couture's shot through traffic in front of the net slipped past him. He stopped all 14 shots in the second period when the pressure was at its greatest from San Jose. There were plenty of chances for either team to come away with the victory, something the Jackets can put in their pocket for Saturday night.

"It was a close game, and I think we showed great character coming back from two goals down, we really worked hard," Huselius said. "I think we played a heck of a game 5-on-5. We could have won the game just as well."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Scoring Summary
1st Period
02:11SJS Torrey Mitchell (1) ASST: Ryane Clowe (1), Joe Pavelski (1) 1 - 0 SJS
10:57SJS PPG - Joe Thornton (1) ASST: Joe Pavelski (2), Antti Niemi (1) 2 - 0 SJS
16:55CBJ PPG - Kristian Huselius (1) ASST: Nikita Filatov (1), Anton Stralman (1) 2 - 1 SJS
17:10CBJ R.J. Umberger (1) ASST: Ethan Moreau (1), Samuel Pahlsson (1) 2 - 2 Tie
2nd Period
3rd Period
10:15SJS PPG - Logan Couture (1) ASST: Ryane Clowe (2), Dan Boyle (1) 3 - 2 SJS
Penalty Summary
1st Period
04:10SJS Dany Heatley  Holding the stick against  Antoine Vermette
06:03SJS Niclas Wallin  Slashing against  Nikita Filatov
09:26CBJ Jared Boll  Fighting (maj) against  Frazer McLaren
09:26SJS Frazer McLaren  Fighting (maj) against  Jared Boll
10:25CBJ Derek Dorsett  Tripping against  Douglas Murray
12:46CBJ Kristian Huselius  Tripping against  Logan Couture
16:31SJS Torrey Mitchell  Hi-sticking against  Derek Dorsett
2nd Period
02:10SJS Scott Nichol  Slashing against  Derek MacKenzie
02:10CBJ Derek MacKenzie  Cross checking against  Scott Nichol
03:48SJS Dany Heatley  Cross checking against  Fedor Tyutin
06:36CBJ Ethan Moreau  Charging against  Marc-Edouard Vlasic
08:38CBJ Jan Hejda  Hooking against  Devin Setoguchi
10:38CBJ Mike Commodore  Fighting (maj) against  Ryane Clowe
10:38SJS Ryane Clowe  Fighting (maj) against  Mike Commodore
10:38SJS Ryane Clowe  Slashing against  Mike Commodore
13:07SJS Douglas Murray  Cross checking against  Samuel Pahlsson
17:36CBJ Anton Stralman  Hooking against  Joe Pavelski
3rd Period
02:56CBJ Samuel Pahlsson  Tripping against  Niclas Wallin
02:56SJS Niclas Wallin  Diving against  Samuel Pahlsson
06:13SJS Jamie McGinn  Tripping against  Anton Stralman
08:26CBJ Mike Commodore  Boarding against  Jamie McGinn
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays2/61/7
Faceoff Wins2432
Blocked Shots2114
Penalty Minutes2826
3D. MurrayD0002220:30
7N. WallinD00-10418:10
8J. PavelskiC0214021:23
12P. MarleauL0002023:26
15D. HeatleyL0002420:04
16D. SetoguchiR00-14014:21
17T. MitchellC1011214:35
19J. ThorntonC10-12018:11
21S. NicholC000027:50
22D. BoyleD0101027:59
29R. CloweL0213714:42
39L. CoutureC1003014:06
40K. HuskinsD0010012:41
44M. VlasicD00-12020:01
57T. WingelsC000004:55
60J. DemersD0012017:11
64J. McGinnL00-10212:15
68F. McLarenL000051:12
31A. Niemi3032.93860:00
3M. MethotD0011017:05
6A. StralmanD0100223:58
15D. DorsettR00-1226:31
16D. BrassardC0001015:14
18R. UmbergerC1011019:37
19E. MoreauL0114214:33
20K. HuseliusL1006219:06
22M. CommodoreD00-12716:01
24D. MacKenzieC00-1025:11
26S. PahlssonC0111216:07
28N. FilatovL0101015:43
35J. HejdaD0000216:12
40J. BollR00-1050:48
50A. VermetteC0004021:47
51F. TyutinD00-12017:52
61R. NashL0006025:29
93J. VoracekR0001017:45
97R. KleslaD0010018:42
1S. Mason2528.89357:58