After picking up their fifth straight win in Pittsburgh last night defeating the Penguins 3-1, the San Jose Sharks arrived in Columbus looking to secure a perfect 6-0 road trip for the first time in franchise history.
Patrick Marleau opened the scoring for the Sharks at 16:27 into the first, but the Blue Jackets turned things around with a strong second period and scored two goals and then added another in the third for a 3-1 lead.
But, at some point in the last 20 minutes of regulation, the Jackets stalled and the Sharks didn't waste any time catching up.
San Jose came back fighting in the third and notched three consecutive goals, taking a 4-3 lead at 13:15. And at 18:44 Joe Pavelski iced it, putting the final score at 5-3 and giving the Sharks a big comeback win.
“That’s a team that just played back-to-back and they found energy for some reason in the third and we didn’t,” captain Nick Foligno said. “I’m disappointed...a 3-1 lead and we lose it. To me, that’s unacceptable. I don’t think we played our best game, but we definitely played well enough to win, especially when you get a third goal like that.
"That’s a big lead to have in the third, and you've got to find a way to close that game out.”
It seemed like the Blue Jackets were in good shape after coach John Tortorella shifted the lines around in the second period. That’s when the momentum shifted in favor of the home team, and they out-shot the Sharks 19-7 and appeared to be taking the game over.
“I just don’t think we had a whole lot of bite to our game,” Tortorella said. “We looked a little stale, so we switched the lines up. I thought we were playing better (in the second period).”
The newly-assembled line of Kerby Rychel, Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson put the Jackets on the board at 5:30 in the second. Johansen notched his fourth goal of the season off a bounce-back rebound and backhanded it past Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock, evening the score 1-1.
A minute and 18 seconds later, Boone Jenner, William Karlsson and Brandon Saad put the Jackets ahead with a tic-tac-toe goal: Saad to Jenner to Karlsson, who passed back across the slot to Jenner, who was sitting at the back door and scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The Jackets' third goal came at 1:23 in the third, when Cam Atkinson gave the Jackets a 3-1 lead after a terrific pass across the goal mouth by Foligno.
“They’re a pretty solid team over there but, that being said, we knew that they had back-to-back games and we had to take advantage of that,” Atkinson said. “You could tell that they were a little tired, but it seemed like we were a little sluggish as well. Good teams find ways to win, especially when you go up by one or two in the third period.”
The Sharks got back within a goal only 4:50 after Atkinson scored; Joe Pavelski scored his 11th of the season to make it 3-2, and 5:12 later, Brent Burns tallied on the power play to tie the game 3-3 at 11:25.
Not even two minutes later, Brenden Dillon scored the eventual game-winning goal, a seeing-eye shot from the point that put the Sharks ahead 4-3 with 6:45 to go.
Tortorella cited multiple lost face-offs (the Blue Jackets 43 percent of them overall) and taking poor penalties, among other things, as reasons behind the result.
“I thought we gathered ourselves again in the third period and started off okay,” Tortorella said. “(We) score a goal, but then they’re opportunistic off of those face-offs. They score goals, we take a bad penalty, they score on the power play, after we really stuffed their power play through most of the night. They found a way to win. We found a way to lose.”