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ctms Travel Game Preview: Jackets look for bounce-back in San Jose

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The San Jose Sharks (6-5-0) return home after a two-game road trip to face the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at SAP Center. The team lost to the Stars in Dallas, 5-3, and picked up a 4-3 win in Denver against the Avalanche.

Last season, the Sharks failed to make the 2014-15 Stanley Cup playoffs, snapping 10 straight seasons of postseason qualification. To no one's surprise, that means changes were imminent in the Bay Area.

As a result, after seven years under Todd McLellan, the team brought in a new head coach. Peter DeBoer is now in the midst of his first season with the Sharks, and has provided them with a new voice and fresh outlook as they look to once again secure their spot in the playoffs.

During the offseason, GM Doug Wilson boosted the team’s defense with the signing of 34-year-old veteran blueliner Paul Martin. The team also re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Brenden Dillion.

Another big move was when the Sharks acquired 25-year-old goalie Martin Jones.

On June 26, the Kings traded Jones in a package to the Boston Bruins, which brought Milan Lucic to Los Angeles. The Sharks got Jones from the Bruins four days later in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft along with a prospect.

After two seasons behind the Los Angeles Kings' No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick, Jones is getting his shot to be the go-to guy with the Sharks. Jones recorded 16 wins and was part of a Stanley Cup winner during his time with the Kings.

In nine games played with the Sharks this season, the netminder has notched six wins and three losses with a .932 save percentage -- not bad for your first full-time gig.

Other notables include the team signing former Capitals forward Joel Ward and naming Joe Pavelski team captain in early October.

The last time these two teams faced each other was almost exactly one year ago on Nov. 14, 2014 in Columbus at Nationwide Arena.

The game marked Sergei Bobrovsky’s return to the lineup after suffering from a lower body injury. Bobrovsky made 36 saves in between the pipes, helping the Blue Jackets secure a much-needed 2-1 win.

David Savard opened the scoring in the first period, and Cam Atkinson added to the score when the Jackets got a power play chance after Mirco Mueller interfered with Ryan Johansen in the neutral zone.

With the second power play unit out, Boone Jenner sent a pass across the zone to Jack Johnson, who found Atkinson on the back door and gave the Jackets a 2-0 lead.

In a defensive-zone mishap, Joe Pavelski found himself inside the circles with a clear view of Bobrovsky and unleashed a quick wrist shot that put the Sharks on the board. It was a 2-1 game headed into the third period.

Bobrovsky stopped all 16 San Jose shots in the third period to pick up the win.

The Blue Jackets are 19-27-5 all-time against the Sharks. In the last eight games, the Jackets went 6-1-1 and 2-0-1 in the last three match-ups. These two teams will meet one more time this season, later in the month, on Nov. 22 at Nationwide Arena.

As mentioned above, this season marks Joel Ward’s first with the Sharks. The 34-year-old is in his ninth NHL season; he previously suited up for the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals.

The right winger has scored 104 goals and tallied 127 assists for a total of 231 points in 528 career NHL games. He’s also added 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in 53 NHL playoff games, giving him a sterling reputation as a prime time postseason performer.

The hard-nosed forward currently leads the Sharks with 11 points (7G, 4A) in 11 games, and per usual, you can find him around the front of the net waiting for rebounds and loose pucks. His most notable game this season came on Oct. 24, when he recorded a hat trick to lead the Sharks past the Carolina Hurricanes.

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