GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:
Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel talked this week about starting on time against the San Jose Sharks, a team that plays exceptionally well in its own building. They did just that, scoring in the early moments of the game, but ultimately dropped a 2-1 decision at HP Pavilion.
Vinny Prospal got the Blue Jackets off on the right foot, taking a centering pass from Mark Letestu and beating goaltender Thomas Greiss five-hole for a 1-0 Columbus lead at 2:13 of the first period. It was the first goal in 11 games for the Blue Jackets' leading scorer, who last lit the lamp Dec. 6 in Montreal. From there, the Blue Jackets were better at even strength but ran into penalty trouble later in the opening frame.
Ryan Johansen caught Dan Boyle with a high-stick at 9:48 of the first period, drawing blood and giving the Sharks a four-minute power play. The Blue Jackets were 10 seconds away from killing off the double minor, until Jason Demers’ point shot got through to Sanford and a scramble ensued. After Sanford made a great save on Michal Handzus, Ryane Clowe was there to cash in the rebound to even the score at 1-1.
Demers picked up his second assist of the night on the Sharks’ game-winning tally. Thornton and Patrick Marleau jammed the front of the net after Demers’ set up the play, and Thornton got his stick on a backhander that found its way behind Sanford at 4:44.
The Blue Jackets had their opportunities in the third period and nearly tied the score on a few occasions. Some of their best chances came in the final minute with Sanford pulled for an extra attacker, including a wrister from Jeff Carter in the dying seconds. Nikita Nikitin made a great stick play at the offensive blue line to keep the play alive, but time ran out for the Blue Jackets who now head down to Los Angeles.
The Sharks appeared a bit groggy to start the game, but the double-minor power play gave them a chance to get scoring chances and build energy. Clowe’s goal was just his second in the last 12 games but it brought the arena to life and seemed to invigorate the rest of the San Jose bench.
The Blue Jackets got into some late penalty trouble, but their penalty kill came up big on back-to-back power plays for Dallas.
The Blue Jackets scored the first goal of the game for the 21st time this season. The club is now 9-9-3 in those games, while going 4-12-3 when tied after the first period and 1-12-1 when trailing after two periods.
Letestu has points in four of the last five games after notching an assist on Prospal’s goal. He has 1-4-5 the last seven games after being held to 1-1-2 the previous 10 games. He also has assists in five of the last 10 games after being held without a helper the previous 24 games.
Antoine Vermette picked up his first assist in 14 games with a helper on Prospal’s goal. He last had an assist Nov. 29 at Vancouver. He has points in two of the last three games after going pointless the previous eight games.
Sanford, who made his first start since Dec. 22 at Nashville, stopped 37-of-39 shots. He fell just shy of his career high 39 saves, set Dec. 15 vs. Los Angeles. He has faced 35-plus shots his last three starts.
vs. Los Angeles Kings
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, Calif.
Saturday, 4 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com