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Blue Jackets' drive for playoffs continues vs. Sharks

by Jon Lane

SHARKS (42-17-7) at BLUE JACKETS (34-26-5)


Last 10: San Jose 7-2-1; Columbus 6-3-1

Season series: Goals from forwards John McCarthy and Tommy Wingels sent the San Jose Sharks into the Olympic break with a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 8.

Big story: The Sharks moved closer to the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot of the Pacific Division with a 6-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. San Jose opens a three-game road trip against Columbus, winners of five of six. The Blue Jackets are 16-6-1 in their past 23 games and 15-4-1 in their past 20 at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Tuesday to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division, one of the automatic Stanley Cup Playoff spots. Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov, who has six goals in his past seven games, is unavailable Thursday as he was at the hospital with his wife, who was due to give birth.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose used a dominant second period in which it outshot Toronto 15-1 in the first 11:47 to take a 4-1 lead and put the game away.

"We had a lot of zone time," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We got on top of them a couple times. They had a few long shifts just by us controlling the puck down low. Guys had some good changes. All the things that you need to do to kind of create the momentum, we did."

San Jose won despite going 0-for-6 with the man advantage; the power play is 2-for-54 in the past 17 games.

Blue Jackets: Columbus defeated Detroit thanks to goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (39 saves) and three third-period goals that snapped a 1-1 tie. The Blue Jackets were playing 24 hours after their game against the Dallas Stars was postponed with 13:37 remaining in the first period when Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench.

''It was a pretty rough start for us,'' forward Nick Foligno said. ''We didn't come out the way we wanted to, but we battled back. [Bobrovsky] was outstanding in the first to kind of keep us in it. Then we just took over in the third period.''

The Blue Jackets will be without forward Blake Comeau, who was suspended two games by the NHL for boarding Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

Who's hot: Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped 19 of 21 shots Tuesday to win his third straight game. Pavelski had two goals and an assist against the Maple Leafs to give him 34 goals and 31 assists with a plus-24 rating … Bobrovsky has won five of his past six for the Blue Jackets.

Injury report: Sharks forward Raffi Torres (general soreness) is likely out Thursday. Right wing Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and defenseman Brad Stuart (upper body) are on injured reserve … Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (ankle) won't play Thursday but could return Saturday. Defenseman Ryan Murray (knee surgery) is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Forwards Jared Boll (left ankle surgery), Jack Skille (upper body) and Oliver Gabriel (torn Achilles) are on IR.


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