SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Even when Rick Nash is in a slump, he's still the
Blue Jackets' most dangerous offensive player -- and he regained his scoring
touch just in time to give Columbus a landmark victory.
Nash scored his NHL-leading 24th goal with 2.1 seconds left in overtime of
the Blue Jackets' first win ever in San Jose, 3-2 over the Sharks on Thursday
Moments after Columbus goalie Marc Denis stopped Wayne Primeau on a
breakaway, Nash took a drop pass from David Vyborny and fired a hard shot past
Evgeni Nabokov for a power-play goal. The Blue Jackets roared onto the ice to
celebrate their third road victory of the season.
After a five-game pointless streak, Nash also had an early assist in the
Blue Jackets' first victory in seven games at the Shark Tank. He admitted
feeling a bit of extra pressure to produce for punchless Columbus.
"It's frustrating when the team is looking for you to score goals," said
Nash, who played on a sore left knee after a hard check earlier in the game.
"I knew there wasn't much time left. All I could do was close my eyes and hope
for the best."
Scott Thornton forced overtime by scoring his second goal of the night with
57 seconds left in regulation for the Sharks, whose franchise-record home
unbeaten streak ended at 11 games. San Jose hadn't lost at home since St. Louis
beat the Sharks in overtime on Nov. 13.
"If you can draw a positive, we got a late goal and got a point," Thornton
said. "It was not one of our better efforts, and we're aware of it. Maybe we
thought it would be an easy night, but it certainly wasn't."
San Jose still increased its Pacific Division lead over Dallas to five
Mark Hartigan and Tyler Wright also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for
just the third time in their last 17 games. Columbus also escaped last place in
the NHL and improved to 3-13-1-2 on the road.
The Blue Jackets got their second victory in four games under interim coach
Gerard Gallant, promoted Jan. 1 after Doug MacLean resigned to concentrate on
his duties as general manager.
"We beat a real good team on the road, that's the big thing," Gallant
said. "We've struggled, but I told them we're 2-2 on this seven-game road trip
now, so we've got to feel pretty good about that."
Denis stopped 34 shots to win for just the second time in his last 11
decisions for the Blue Jackets, but he allowed a late goal. With Nabokov pulled
for an extra attacker, Thornton fought through a crowd and deflected a slap
shot by rookie Christian Ehrhoff to tie it.
"Usually we're on the other end of these last-second losses," Nash said.
"That's what it felt like again when they scored. It's good to turn the
Thornton also scored in the opening minute to salvage a point for the
Sharks. Nabokov, who has lost two straight after a seven-game unbeaten streak,
stopped 22 shots.
"We didn't respect them the way we should," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
"The worst thing that happened was we scored on the first shift ... and we
started playing a one-on-one game that's outside of our normal game. We ended
up getting exactly what we deserved."
The Blue Jackets tied it early in the second period on a long goal by
Wright, who returned from his second stint of the season on the injured list.
Wright had missed Columbus' previous four games.
Columbus got a power-play goal late in the second when San Jose's Marco
Sturm was called for a questionable interference penalty after clobbering
Rostislav Klesla at center ice. Klesla, who needed help from two teammates to
leave the ice, had his head down while trying to play the puck when Sturm hit
Hartigan, playing just his second game with the Blue Jackets this season,
was left alone in front of Nabokov during the power play, and he easily tipped
the puck home for his sixth career NHL goal.