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Blue Jackets' trip continues against Sharks

by Brian Compton

BLUE JACKETS (21-17-7) at SHARKS (24-13-7)


Last 10: Columbus 7-3-0; San Jose 7-2-1

Season series: This is the third of three meetings. The Columbus Blue Jackets have outscored the San Jose Sharks by a 10-2 margin in two victories. Both of those games took place at Nationwide Arena.

Big story: The Sharks are still fighting for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but can at least guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason by earning at least one point Sunday. They enter Sunday fifth in the Western Conference, tied with the Los Angeles Kings at 55 points apiece. The Blue Jackets are aiming for the second-ever appearance in the postseason and began Sunday eighth in the West, one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings and two ahead of the Dallas Stars.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Columbus saw its five-game winning streak come to end last Thursday, as Jonathan Quick denied 20 of 21 shots in a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles. Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves for Columbus and Dalton Prout scored the lone goal.

Sunday marks the fifth of what has thus far been a highly successful six-game road trip for the Blue Jackets. They’ll visit Dallas on Thursday.

"We have to protect the puck better and be a little bit more efficient in the neutral zone to spend more time in their end and cause them to chase us more times than not," Prout said. "Keep them out for a longer time so they have to take those penalties."

Sharks: San Jose continued its playoff push Thursday as it cruised to a 6-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion. Logan Couture had two goals and two assists, Martin Havlat had two goals and one assist and Antti Niemi made 27 saves for what was his League-leading 23rd win.

"We all feel comfortable," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We all like where our game is. We can still improve in some things and we still got some games in the regular season to win. But, yeah, we keep getting better. It's a perfect time for that."

Who's hot: Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin has two goals and two assists over the past four games and winger Blake Comeau is 2-1-3 in the past three. … Couture has four goals and two assists in the past five games for San Jose.

Injury report: The Blue Jackets are expected to be without Matt Calvert (broken finger), Artem Anisimov (concussion), Adrian Aucoin (lower body) and Nikita Nikitin (lower body).

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