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Blue Jackets, Sharks meet back in the U.S.

by Brian Hunter
BLUE JACKETS (11-6-0) at SHARKS (9-5-4)


Last 10:
Columbus 7-3-0; San Jose 5-2-3

Season series: Third of four meetings this season -- these teams opened the season in Stockholm as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere Series, splitting a pair of games. Logan Couture's power-play goal midway through the third period gave San Jose a 3-2 win in the opener, then Columbus won 3-2 the following day when Ethan Moreau scored 1:56 into overtime.

Big story: Steve Mason started both games against the Sharks in Stockholm, but after he got the start in the Blue Jackets' game against the Ducks on Friday, expect Mathieu Garon was between the pipes for this one. Garon has sparkled in limited opportunities this season, winning four of his five starts while posting a 1.28 goals-against average and .951 save percentage.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: The players Columbus depends on the most have been at their best of late, and it reflects in the Blue Jackets' recent record. Captain Rick Nash opened the scoring Friday against Anaheim with his fifth goal in four games and Mason turned in his best outing of the season by making 47 saves in a 4-3 victory. The Blue Jackets could sweep their three-game California road trip by beating San Jose.

"Anytime you're going to get a lot of pucks early and often, it helps you feel comfortable in the net. Tonight was one of those nights," said Mason, who has started the last four games. "They had some very good opportunities, but our guys did a very good job of preventing second chances."

Sharks: It's been eight games since San Jose failed to record at least one point, but after going 4-0-1 on their most recent homestand, the Sharks lost consecutive overtime games on the road to the Avalanche and Stars, giving up nine goals in the process and blowing two-goal, third-period leads both times. In the Dallas game, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro scored 29 seconds apart late in the third to force overtime and then Ribeiro struck again in the extra period.

"A team can play a great 55 minutes and five minutes will kill you. You can't let your guard down," forward Patrick Marleau said. "It's a good League and teams will get bounces. It was very disappointing. We could've come home with two more points than we did. We had 10 minutes we didn't play and we have to make sure that doesn't happen."
Who's hot: In addition to Nash having the hot stick, Jakub Voracek has 3 goals and 1 assist over his last four games for the Blue Jackets. … Joe Pavelski has 3 goals and 5 assists during a five-game points streak for the Sharks. Ryane Clowe has 2 goals and 6 assists during a four-game points streak. Couture has 3 goals and 3 assists during a four-game points streak.

Injury report:
Columbus forward Derek MacKenzie (groin) and defenseman Anton Stralman (illness) are day-to-day. Moreau (hand) and fellow forward Kristian Huselius (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve. … San Jose defensemen Douglas Murray (lower body) and Niclas Wallin (undisclosed) are day-to-day.

Stat pack: In a span of 10 days, the Blue Jackets have snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Blues, put an end to the Kings' club-record 8-0 start at home, and stopped a five-game home winning streak by the Ducks. The Sharks lead the League by averaging 36.1 shots per game. The 28.1 they allow are the sixth fewest.

Puck drop: Columbus got San Jose's attention with a hard-fought couple of games in Europe and its continued strong play since.

"They're getting some real good seasons out of guys like (Marc) Methot and (Rostislav) Klesla on their back end," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Their goaltending has been very good. They play a good team game and a hard team game."

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