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Columbus
Blue Jackets
25-45-8-4
San Jose
Sharks
43-21-12-6

26 SOG
38 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
CBJ
SJS
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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. San Jose Sharks

Monday, 02.23.2004 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. San Jose Sharks
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. San Jose Sharks
Blue Jackets-Sharks Preview

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (17-32-8-4) at San Jose Sharks (29-16-11-5).

TIME: Monday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

Marco Sturm has played a big role in the San Jose Sharks' surge toward a Pacific Division title.

Sturm will look to continue his recent tear when the Sharks return home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After registering just one goal and two assists in 12 games in January, Sturm has come alive in February, recording five goals and five assists in eight games.

The 25-year-old left wing has been especially good over his last four games, scoring three goals and adding four assists for San Jose, which won three of those games and is four points ahead of Dallas in the Pacific.

Picked 21st overall in the 1996 draft, Sturm had a goal and two assists in the Sharks' 6-3 win in Chicago on Thursday.

"It was a big game for us," Sturm said. "We just wanted to go hard against these guys. Our line was clicking real good. They came out a little flat and we took advantage."

Patrick Marleau and Vincent Damphousse each had power-play goals and an assist for the Sharks, who play four of their next five at home, where they have lost just seven times all season (14-5-7-2).

The Blue Jackets have lost three straight and six of eight, but hope to play solid hockey the rest of the way now that Rick Nash has broken out of his longest scoring drought of the season.

Nash, the top overall pick in the 2002 draft, ended an eight-game drought with two goals in Friday's 4-3 loss to Los Angeles.

The 6-foot-4, 206-pound left wing is tied with Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for the NHL lead in goals with 33 and power-play goals with 15.

"It's a pretty big relief," said Nash, 19. "The season is full of ups and downs, so you can't go through a whole season scoring in every game or every other game. You are going to have your slumps."

Columbus is winless in its last 10 road games (0-7-3), including five straight losses, and is tied with Chicago for the fewest points in the Western Conference.

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 46 points, 4th place (tied), 34 PB, Central Division. Sharks - 74 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nash, 33 goals and 44 points; David Vyborny, 22 assists; Jody Shelley, 166 PIM. Sharks - Marleau, 26 goals and 45 points; Damphousse, 22 assists; Scott Parker, 86 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 21): Blue Jackets - Power play: 13.9 percent (43 for 309), 26th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (203 for 244), 21st. Sharks - Power play: 15.2 percent (39 for 256), 20th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (211 for 248), 8th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (15-26-7, 3 SO, 2.50 GAA); Fred Brathwaite (2-9-1, 3.41); Pascal Leclaire (0-1-0, 0, 3.05). Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (19-15-7, 7, 2.05); Vesa Toskala (10-6-4, 2.07).

SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 14; Sharks, 2-1, OT. At Columbus, Sturm jammed in a loose puck with 16.1 seconds left in overtime - on the Sharks' franchise-record 50th shot - to give San Jose the victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-20-4-2 on the road; Sharks - 14-5-7-2 at home.


Associated Press
2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 23 '04CBJ 2 at SJS 4J. Cheechoo
Feb 14 '04SJS 2 at CBJ 1 - OTM. Sturm
Jan 08 '04CBJ 3 at SJS 2 - OTR. Nash
Dec 31 '03SJS 1 at CBJ 0A. McCauley
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GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
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