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FINAL: Sharks 3, Blue Jackets 2

Werenski scores twice as CBJ point streak ends at 12 games

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets saw their 12-game point streak come to a close with a 3-2 loss vs. San Jose on Saturday afternoon at Nationwide Arena.  

Game in a Paragraph 

In a Kids Takeover matinee, Columbus took a while to find its game and made just enough mistakes to finally end up on the wrong side of the ledger in regulation. Both teams were solid defensively for much of the game, but San Jose found two goals in the second period and made them stand up to the end despite a late Blue Jackets push. 

Video: CBJ Recap: Blue Jackets point streak ends at 12 games

Quote of the Game

Head coach John Tortorella: "We struggled early. Found our way toward the end of the first period, played better. Our awareness on the two (second period) goals, we can't make a pass knowing there's so little time left on the power play back toward our net. You can't. And a changeup goal -- it's three veteran guys coming off the ice. We didn't generate much. I don't think they generated a whole hell of a lot either. It's just we didn't generate enough, especially in the third period."

CBJ Notables 

  • Zach Werenski scored twice, giving him seven goals in his last eight games. His 13 goals this season are tied for second among NHL defensemen.  
  • Boone Jenner notched an assist, giving him three points in the last three games and 2-3-5 in the last eight games.  
  • Elvis Merzlikins turned in another solid effort in the CBJ net, stopping 25 of 28 shots on goal. 

Quick Recap 

San Jose thought it had taken the lead 3:06 into the game while getting off to a fast start that includes 10 of the first 11 shot attempts of the game. Joel Kellman scored through Merzlikins' legs on a 2-on-1 at that moment, but the Blue Jackets challenged for offside and won the challenge. 

From there, Columbus battled back into the game but the teams went to the locker room tied 0-0. The Blue Jackets had an excellent chance early in the second period as San Jose blew a line change to give Columbus an odd-man rush, but Radim Simek deflected a rebound shot by Sonny Milano just wide after Aaron Dell's stop on Nathan Gerbe. 

The Sharks then did take the 1-0 lead at the 7:05 mark, with Barclay Goodrow scoring just after coming out of the penalty box. A pass was deflected out to the neutral zone by the Sharks and Goodrow caught it in full flight, then skated in alone on Merzlikins and snuck the puck through the goalie's legs. 

Columbus needed just 1:45 to tie the score, though. A strong forecheck led to the goal by Werenski, as Columbus won the puck along the wall and Jenner centered it to the defenseman, who flipped a perfect backhander past the far-side blocker of Dell. 

San Jose again took the lead though with 5:20 left in the second. A slow line change by the Blue Jackets led to a 3-on-2, and Evander Kane took the puck, cut to the slot and ripped a forehand shot past the glove of Merzlikins.  

Despite the Sharks' goals, Columbus had the possession edge for the second, but in the third, San Jose clamped down and allowed the Blue Jackets just two shots on goal. 

Things did get interesting late as the teams exchanged goals within a 25-second span. First, San Jose made it 3-1 as Kevin Labanc scored in transition off a slick feed from Joe Thornton with 3:01 left, but Werenski quickly answered as he buried the rebound of a Seth Jone slap shot that was tipped by Milano into an open net with 2:36 to go and Merzlikins off for an extra attacker.

Columbus pushed for another empty-net goal but could not earn the equalizer, falling to 8-1-4 in its last 13 games. 

3 Takeaways

1. Well, it was bound to happen -- the Blue Jackets' 12-game point streak is finally over. There were enough times where it felt like it was coming -- any streak with two wins over NHL-leading Washington, another over Boston, one over the New York Islanders, and another over Sergei Bobrovsky in an emotional New Year's Eve game is impressive -- but it took a matinee game against a team below .500 to finally snap it. The Blue Jackets just didn't have their A-game, and while they probably did enough to win, they did enough to lose as well. "It was just one of those things that happens," Werenski said. "We kind of corrected ourselves a little bit htere in the second and third period. We started playing better and a little more crisp, but it still wasn't up to our level. We missed some chances that were right there, some bad passes, some icings -- stuff like that we don't usually do. It was one of those games for us."

2. So it bears questioning, was it the 1 o'clock starting time that played a factor? The reality is that afternoon NHL games often lack the flow and crispness of night games simply because hockey players, as creatures of routine, usually play at night. This was just the second 1 p.m. start in 42 games for Columbus, and only two more afternoon games -- Feb 1-2 at Buffalo and Montreal -- are left. That means 78 of 82 games the Blue Jackets will play this year are evening or night contests. Still, as Tortorella says, when a team shows up to play a game, there's no excuse not to be at the top level. "We don't play a lot of these 1 o'clockers, but that's no excuse," Jones said. "We have to compete every game. I think the compete was there, it's just the execution wasn't for whatever reason."

3. If there's two places the Blue Jackets could have done better, it would be on the power play and in the third period. Columbus was 0-for-2 on the power play and just didn't look good doing it, then the Blue Jackets allowed the Goodrow goal as the Sharks forward came out of the box. "Same thing as 5-on-5, just not putting people in the positions to succeed," Jones said after the NHL's best PK shut down the Jackets. As for the third period, the Blue Jackets had strung together some excellent comebacks late in games during the 12-game point streak, but in this one, San Jose put the clamps down and outshot the CBJ by an 11-2 margin. "They checked," Tortorella said. "They waited for their chances. A big team. It's tough to get on the inside on them. We've had some good third periods here of late. We just couldn't find a way to generate much offense." 

Notable 

Columbus saw a four-game streak of winning after giving up the first goal come to an end. … Now with 51 goals in his career, Werenski is the first Blue Jackets defenseman to score 50 goals. … The Kids Takeover crowd of 18,874 was the team's third straight sellout and fifth of the season at Nationwide. Columbus had been 4-0-1 in its last five at home. … Columbus had won three straight vs. San Jose. … San Jose improved to 14-0-1 when leading after two. ... The Blue Jackets will play five straight against Western Conference foes. 

Roster Report 

Columbus kept the same 12 forwards but with Dean Kukan's injury, Gabriel Carlsson returned to the lineup. Scratches were Emil Bemstrom and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.  

Up Next 

The Blue Jackets hit the road for the annual West Coast swing, taking on Los Angeles on Monday night at 10 p.m. 

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