The Blue Jackets may have been playing with fire giving the San Jose Sharks a high quantity of power-play time through the first 40 minutes of tonight’s game.
But they clawed back into it in the third period, and got a skill-laden goal from captain Rick Nash to tie the game at 1-1 with 13:07 left in regulation. His team-leading 16th of the year was a rocket to the top shelf off a well-organized rush, and despite being out-shot the majority of the game, the Blue Jackets were the team doing most of the “leaning” down the stretch.
Just like that, a lively crowd of 16,582 at Nationwide Arena was rocking.
Patrick Marleau broke that 1-1 tie with 2:57 to play, depositing a long rebound into the yawning net and putting the pressure back on Columbus. It was a wild finish and the Blue Jackets came close, but Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss did enough to keep his team on top.
And in the early stages of the game, the Blue Jackets managed to kill off nine minutes of work time for a man-advantage unit that boasts a handful of skilled players. It was a game played close the vest by both clubs, but in the end, the Sharks emerged with their sixth win in eight games.
If energy was a question for the Blue Jackets having played last night, it certainly wasn’t evident. Their game plan included finishing checks on the Sharks’ skill players and making them play in their zone as much as possible. But it wasn’t until the second half of a Fedor Tyutin penalty for delaying the game that the Sharks finally took advantage.
Brent Burns’ one-timer from the center point rang off the post behind Curtis Sanford, and after a scramble in the blue paint, Clowe emerged to swat in his ninth of the season at 14:59 of the middle stanza.
Sanford was excellent in keeping the Blue Jackets in the game, making a bevy of crucial stops in the final 30 minutes to give his team a chance. His left-handed snag off a Joe Thornton snap shot in the third period came a few shifts before the game-tying marker from Nash.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, the most important moment in this game was the game-winning goal. It looked as if the home team would be first to break the 1-1 deadlock, creating several chances in the San Jose zone only to see Greiss make a pair of highlight-reel saves on Nash and Dorsett in the third period.
Marleau’s goal was out-of-left-field for the Sharks, but it proved to be all they needed.
The Blue Jackets allowed the first goal of the game for the 21st time this season. The club is now 2-17-2 in those games, while going 6-2-1 when leading after the first period and 10-6-2 when leading after two periods. Columbus is now 14-21-6 all-time against Phoenix, including a 9-10-2 mark at Nationwide Arena.
Sanford stopped 31-of-33 shots tonight in the loss. He has a 2.36 goals-against average and .936 save percentage his last three home starts.
Columbus is now 13-25-4 all-time against San Jose, including a 10-9-2 mark at Nationwide Arena. The “road” team has won five of the last six meetings after the home team had won 13 of the previous 15 meetings.
Nash has goals in three of the last four games after sniping his 16th tonight. He has scored 12 goals in the last 25 games after being held to four goals the first 19 games of the season. He’s picked up 12-7-19 the last 26 games after being held to 1-3-4 the previous 10 games. He has 16 goals in 31 career games vs. the Sharks.
Antoine Vermette is riding a three-game point streak after picking up an assist on Nash’s goal. He has 1-2-3 during the streak and 2-3-5 the last eight games after being held pointless the eight games prior. He won 13-pf-21 face-offs (61.9 percent) on the night and entered the night ranked 10th in the NHL in face-off win percentage.
Dorsett has assists in two of the last three games. He had gone the previous 16 games without an assist. He has 6-4-10 the last 28 games after being held to 1-0-1 the first 13 games of the season.
vs. San Jose Sharks
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com