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Game Preview: Blue Jackets host Sharks looking to continue strong home play

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

**NOTE: Records and statistics current as of Saturday night's schedule

The San Jose Sharks started the season as one of the league’s surprise teams, going 5-1-0 out of the gate and getting exquisite goaltending from Martin Jones, their offseason acquisition to replace Antti Niemi.

After the hot start, they cooled off a bit and went through some adversity with a long-term injury to Logan Couture, one of the offensive leaders of their club and a bright young player. Couture’s injury occurred in practice, and the Sharks got some good news recently when Couture did some light skating in practice.

With a long road trip winding down, the Sharks have an opportunity to put together a perfect 6-0 trip for the first time ever. Their 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday night was their fifth straight away from SAP Center, and heading into Sunday’s game in Columbus, the Sharks have a chance to make some franchise history.

Part of their most recent win were two milestones: first was the 1,000th career point for Patrick Marleau, a career Shark who’s served as captain, alternate captain, and now one of the veteran leaders shepherding in a new era.

Second was the first Sharks goal for Paul Martin and it so happened to come against his most recent employer. Martin opted to part ways with the Penguins this summer, and signed a four-year contract with the Sharks during unrestricted free agency.

It wasn’t that long ago – 19 days to be exact – that the Blue Jackets and Sharks last connected. Columbus, kicking off a three-game swing through California on the heels of a disappointing home loss to the Winnipeg Jets, got an early lead and never trailed. Brandon Saad opened the scoring on the power play, and a quick two-goal burst late in the second period provided the Blue Jackets with some separation.

Boone Jenner capitalized on a San Jose miscue behind the net and buried the go-ahead goal, and moments later, Ryan Murray floated a shot through traffic that beat Martin Jones and gave the Blue Jackets a 4-2 lead through 40 minutes.

Matt Calvert hit an empty net from 100 feet out to seal up a 5-2 final margin.

It’s been only six games since his recall from the AHL, but Melker Karlsson is making a strong case to be a permanent fixture on the Sharks roster.

The 25-year-old Swede has spent the majority of the 2015-16 season with the San Jose Barracuda, but he did score 13 goals in 53 games last season – his first in the NHL after coming over from Europe.

Karlsson scored the overtime game-winner earlier this week in Philadelphia, and has four points (three goals) since getting the call-up.

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