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Blue Jackets try to get even with Sharks in Stockholm

by Dave Lozo

BLUE JACKETS (0-1-0) vs. SHARKS (1-0-0)


Season series -- In Friday night's season-opener for both teams, the Jackets erased a 2-0 deficit but the Sharks got a late goal from Logan Couture for a 3-2 victory.

Big story -- Special teams meant everything on Friday, as there were 17 minor penalties called in the game. The Sharks scored twice on the power play, including Couture's game-winner in the third period. The Jackets were just 1-for-7 with the extra man but looked sharp at 5-on-4. If the Jackets can cut down on penalties and play as well as they did at 5-on-5 for a second straight game, they could earn the split in Sweden.

Team Scope:

Jackets -- After a sluggish start, Columbus played very well over the final two periods. Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger struck for goals 15 seconds part in the first period to erase a two-goal deficit and Steve Mason was sharp in net after some early struggles.

A bounce here or there, and it could've been the Jackets who won the opener.

"It was a close game, and I think we showed great character coming back from two goals down, we really worked hard," Huselius said. "I think we played a heck of a game 5-on-5. We could have won the game just as well."

Sharks -- There was a lot to like in the opener for San Jose. Joe Thornton got a goal in his first game as captain, the power play clicked, and Antti Niemi made 30 saves in his Sharks debut to get the win.

But it could be Antero Niittymaki getting the start Saturday, although coach Todd McLellan isn't tipping his hand. But Niemi definitely made his case for starting two straight with his performance on Friday.

"He was a big man in the net," said McLellan. "There's no doubt about it -- they had a fair number of chances. He fills up a lot of the net and did what he had to do."

Who's hot -- For the Sharks, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski had two assists in the opener. Kristian Huselius had a goal and six shots for the Jackets, while Rick Nash had numerous scoring chances and also had six shots.

Injury report -- Sharks forward Jamie McGinn took a scary crash into the boards during the third period and his status won't be known until Saturday morning. Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll left the opener after playing just 48 seconds with an undisclosed injury.

Stat pack -- Antti Niemi is now 2-0-0 in NHL Premiere games. He blanked the Florida Panthers in Helsinki last season as a member of the Blackhawks. Niemi also had an assist in the opener. … The Blue Jackets won 57 percent of their faceoffs on Friday against the NHL's best faceoff team last season.

Puck drop -- After a penalty-filled opener, expects both teams to play a more sound game Saturday. No one wants to come to a hockey game see ping-pong break out.

"It was a strange game," McLellan said. "There was really nothing going on at 5-on-5, more ping pong, pucks bouncing all over the place. Ninety-five percent of the chances came on power play situations for both teams and we were lucky enough to get one more than they did."

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