SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks came up with the perfect way to kick off their extended break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Sharks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 at SAP Center on Friday night, closed within five points of the first-place Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division and made coach Todd McLellan a winner in his franchise-record 435th game with San Jose.
"We're right there," captain Joe Thornton said. "We're going to get some guys back from the injured reserve. We feel like we'll get some good rest and make a good push and see what happens where we are at the end of the year."
"We're 80 points at the Olympic break," said McLellan, who had shared the franchise record for games coached with Darryl Sutter before Friday. "We would have been probably pleased with that at the beginning of the season. Considering some of the players we lost over and throughout the year, we go into the break satisfied. Coming out of it we have work to do."
The Blue Jackets enter the break with 63 points. Despite losing to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime Thursday and to the Sharks 24 hours later, they're one point behind Detroit for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and one point behind the third-place Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.
"We'll enjoy our time off and recharge the batteries," coach Todd Richards said. "When we come back, let's have a focus, let's be prepared to work."
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 19 saves for his 29th victory.
The Sharks led 2-1 entering the third period, and Wingels made it 3-1 at 5:11 with his 12th goal of the season and second in as many games -- he had the overtime winner in a 2-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic set the play in motion with a long-range blast. The rebound went to Jason Demers in the right circle, and he ripped a shot that Bobrovsky dove to stop. But the puck trickled past him and Wingels tapped it into an open net.
The Blue Jackets didn't get into San Jose until late Thursday night after playing the Kings, and Wingels said San Jose wore them down. The Sharks controlled the puck for nearly a minute before Wingels scored by crashing the net.
"You take advantage of a line and a team when you get into that situation," Wingels said. "We controlled the puck there. We shot it and got it back a couple times and then we were fortunate to get a goal.
"Not all of our goals are going to be pretty, and that shows it. We may have found our scoring now. Now we have a break. Guys will get refreshed and we'll be ready to play in a couple of weeks."
Jenner made it 3-2 at 10:45 with his 10th goal of the season. Demers, who returned to the lineup after missing three games with a groin injury, gave away the puck in his own end. Johansen quickly sent the puck from behind the net to Nathan Horton. He got it to Jenner in the slot, and Jenner beat Niemi with a wrist shot.
"We were able to fight back," Johansen said. "Obviously you don't want to go into a break with a loss, but we have been playing great hockey the past few games. The boys battled hard and we just fell a little short. We'll take things from this game and work on them. Yeah, with the game last night we were a little tired in the third period."
The Sharks' trouble on the power play continued Friday. They entered the game on a 1-for-24 skid and went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. Columbus went 0-for-4.
McCarthy gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 3:23 of the first period with his first goal of the season and third of his NHL career. He hadn't scored a goal since Nov. 6, 2010, a span of 73 games.
"It's been a long time and it felt really good to get one," McCarthy said.
McCarthy won a faceoff in the right circle in the Columbus zone, got the puck to James Sheppard, headed toward the net and got his stick on Sheppard's shot, redirecting it over Bobrovsky's left shoulder.
McCarthy, a seventh-round choice by San Jose in the 2006 NHL Draft, was reassigned to Worcester of the American Hockey League last Saturday after clearing waivers but was recalled Thursday, one day after rookie Matt Nieto injured his left foot blocking a shot against Dallas.
"It's an emotional thing when you go on waivers," McLellan said. "We still think enough of him to bring him back and play him in the position that he played in. It's nice to see him get the offense. He's been very responsible defensively and a very good penalty-killer for us lately but to get the offense has to make him feel good."
Marleau made it 2-0 at 8:13 with his 23rd goal of the season tipping Scott Hannan's rocket past Bobrovsky to cap a relentless shift by the Sharks' top line. Marleau nearly scored from close range; Brett Burns blasted a shot from the slot, and the rebound went to a wide-open Hannan above the left circle.
Hannan, who had two assists in San Jose victory against Dallas, and Burns earned the assists.
Midway through the period, Jenner put a rebound past Niemi from close range, but the play was ruled no goal because his stick was higher than the crossbar when he made contact. The call on the ice was confirmed after a video review.
The Blue Jackets cut San Jose's lead in half 18 seconds into the second period on Johansen's unassisted goal. The Sharks turned the puck over in their end, and Johansen quickly made them pay by beating Niemi with a wrist shot for his team-high 24th goal.
The Sharks outshot Columbus 15-8 in the second period and had four power plays but came away empty.
Columbus nearly pulled even midway through the second while San Jose was on a power play. Calvert came in on a breakaway and powered a shot through Niemi's legs, but the puck hit his pad and angled wide left.
"We played last night, but no excuses, we had to find a way to win this game," Richards said. "They were better than us. They were faster than us and they worked harder. Our effort was there."
During the game, Sharks fans gave McLellan a loud ovation for his latest franchise record, but he said he didn't even notice.
"Kind of just zero right in on the game," McLellan said. "For me it's almost like a teacher. I don't think the teacher ever goes home and is really satisfied with their performance. They're always satisfied with the classroom's performance. That's what it's all about. It's nice to stand behind there and see guys execute and play the way they need to play, play for each other. That's where the satisfaction comes from, and tonight was one of those nights."
|John McCarthy (1) ASST: James Sheppard (7)|
1 - 0 SJS
|Patrick Marleau (23) ASST: Scott Hannan (9)|
2 - 0 SJS
|Ryan Johansen (24) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 SJS
|Tommy Wingels (12) ASST: Jason Demers (22), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (14)|
3 - 1 SJS
|Boone Jenner (10) ASST: Nathan Horton (7), Ryan Johansen (22)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Power Play %||21.7%||21.6%|
|% on Road||21.5%||19.5%|
|% at Home||22.0%||23.8%|
|Adam Burish Boarding against Nikita Nikitin|
|Patrick Marleau Tripping against Ryan Johansen|
|Jack Johnson Holding the stick against Brent Burns|
|Jack Johnson Slashing against Brent Burns|
|Martin Havlat Interference against Brandon Dubinsky|
|James Wisniewski Cross checking against Joe Pavelski|
|David Savard Interference against Andrew Desjardins|
|Bracken Kearns Tripping against Fedor Tyutin|
|Brandon Dubinsky Cross checking against Justin Braun|