The Blue Jackets lost for just the second time in 16 games -- both against the Sharks -- with a 3-1 setback vs. San Jose at the SAP Center on Thursday night.
Game in a Paragraph
It was another game where Columbus didn't have its A-game, with the team falling into a 2-0 hole in the second period. A Sonny Milano goal late in the second got the team back into the game, but the Sharks again won the third period for the second time in six days to finish off their win.
Video: Condensed Game: Blue Jackets @ Sharks
Quote of the Game
CBJ captain Nick Foligno: "We just didn't put ourselves in positions to forecheck. If we did rip and tip, nobody else was skating in to go get it. We weren't really pressuring them. They flipped a lot of pucks out. It seems like we were caught in between a lot tonight. That hasn't been the case. We've been more assertive the past little while than we were tonight, and it cost us."
- Milano scored his fifth goal of the season and has 2-2-4 in five games since returning from injury.
- Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves but fell to 4-2-0 in the last six games as the team's starter.
Unlike the past two games, Columbus got through the first period without giving up a goal, and it was a 0-0 game through 20 minutes.
That doesn't mean it was always pretty, though, as Merzlikins had to make one frenetic save to keep it scoreless about four minutes into the game. He went behind the net to play the puck just as Kevin Labanc arrived, and the two got tied up with it. As Merzlikins tried to get back into the net, Labanc centered the puck, where it bounced back toward the goal off the skate of Nathan Gerbe only for a diving Merzlikins to bat it to safety.
Video: CBJ@SJS: Merzlikins dives across crease to rob Kane
Both teams also had some other good looks in the period, including Zach Werenski's chance from the slot as well as power-play rips by Kevin Stenlund and Milano. San Jose's Evander Kane, who entered with four goals in three games, also was denied by a nifty glove save by Merzlikins on the rush.
San Jose needed just 1:01 of the second period to take a 1-0 lead, however. It was a good shift by the Sharks' top line, and Kane got the puck with space on the left side and faked a shot, drawing Merzlikins down, before centering a pass that ended up on the stick of Labanc to put home past the sprawled goalie.
Merzlikins had to make some good stops in the first half of the period as well on Patrick Marleau (right pad) and Antti Suomela (glove). But the Sharks were able to make it 2-0 at 13:28 of the period on the power play, as Joe Thornton teed up a pass from Erik Karlsson and blasted it past Merzlikins' glove.
Columbus got one back late in the period, though, to make it 2-1 after two. A good forecheck by Gus Nyquist forced a turnover and Milano jumped on it, collecting the puck in the corner, cutting to the net and slipping the puck through Dell's legs as he went for the poke check.
Another early goal in the third, though, allowed the Sharks to restore the two-goal lead. It was another long shift in the Blue Jackets zone, and San Jose took advantage at 17:51 when Labanc's shot was kicked out by Merzlikins but Brent Burns jumped on the rebound, cut to the slot and backhanded the puck into the net.
Foligno tried to fire up the troops as he dropped the gloves against Brenden Dillon after a big hit on Labanc, but Columbus struggled to create great chances against the Sharks for much of the third and fell to 10-2-4 in the last 16 games.
1. The game had a pair of turning points, and the Blue Jackets ended up on the wrong end of them. With Columbus trailing 2-0 in the second period, Milano's goal in the final two minutes could have been the moment that sparked the Blue Jackets. When the team also killed off a penalty early in the third, it seemed like momentum might be on its side. But the Sharks quickly put together a strong shift that ended when Burns happened upon the rebound and shoveled it past the down-and-out Merzlikins. From there, the Jackets were chasing the game and never caught it. "That's a big goal for them," Seth Jones said. We wanted to try to tie it up. 3-1 puts it a little out of reach, but I thought we still tried to play quick and get back in the game."
2. Head coach John Tortorella had a biggest pet peeve about the contest, and it's something that has been happening a bit of late. "My biggest concern is just the start of periods," the head coach said. "It's an epidemic right now with our club even as we've won some games. They don't score in the first period (tonight) but they start really fast on us. They score a goal in the second period. The third period, we kill the penalty off, we get scored on. That's what bothers me most." While Columbus did avoid giving up a goal in the first few minutes of the game like they had in Los Angeles and Anaheim, that issue popped back up later in the game and came back to bite the Jackets.
3. Unlike the past two games, where Columbus was able to rally from early deficits, the offense just wasn't there tonight to get the Blue Jackets back in it. While Tortorella said the Blue Jackets created 20 scoring chances -- and there were some good looks -- there wasn't enough sustained pressure, nor were the bounces on the team's side. When it came down to it, a lack of consistent forechecking was viewed as the culprit. "We get 20 scoring chances tonight," Tortorella said. "It's kind of a weird game. I thought their goalie played well."
Columbus had won six of seven when giving up the first goal and had been 5-1-1 on Thursdays. ... The Blue Jackets lost in regulation on the road for the first time since Dec. 7 in Florida. … Columbus fell one win shy of a California sweep. The only previous sweep of all three California teams on one road trip took place in November 2010. … Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella coached his 1,302nd game, passing Mike Babcock for 12th all-time among NHL coaches.
Columbus made no changes to the lineup, so scratches were forward Ryan MacInnis, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (injury).
The Blue Jackets complete the four-game West Coast road swing Saturday night with a game at Vegas.