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game recap

Sharks defeat Blue Jackets in first game without Couture

Labanc has goal, assist against Columbus, which had been 6-0-3 in past nine on road

by Ross McKeon / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Labanc nets loose puck in front

CBJ@SJS: Labanc buries loose from the doorstep

Kevin Labanc gets good position in front of the net and quickly whips the loose puck home to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the 2nd

  • 00:39 •

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks won their first game without Logan Couture, 3-1 to end the Columbus Blue Jackets' road point streak at nine at SAP Center on Thursday.

Couture, the Sharks' captain, will be out six weeks after fracturing his ankle in a 3-2 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. 

"Winning is fun, we haven't had a ton of it this year," Sharks goalie Aaron Dell said. "We're heading in the right direction. We're doing a lot of the little things better [and] more consistently throughout the whole game. That's a key for us right now."

 

[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Sharks highlights]

 

Kevin Labanc had a goal and an assist, and Dell made 30 saves for San Jose (20-22-4), which is 4-2-2 in the past eight games.  

Dell has won three of his past four starts and has started eight of the 13 games since coach Bob Boughner took over for Peter DeBoer on Dec. 11. 

"I'm just trying to play my own game and not really worry about what everyone else is doing," Dell said. "We've limited the scoring chances against lately."

Video: CBJ@SJS: Thornton rips slap shot from circle for PPG

Sonny Milano scored, and Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves for Columbus (21-16-8), which had been 6-0-3 in its past nine road games. 

"We weren't sharp out there," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We didn't sustain any consistent forechecking. My concern right now is the start of every period, it's an epidemic."

Joe Thornton gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 13:28 of the second period with a slap shot from the top of the left circle nine seconds into a power play.

"He surprises me every night with something else," Boughner said. "I've increased his minutes and he's responded positively to that. I think he's been on a little bit of a resurgence on our power play, he's almost the catalyst, the quarterback."

Milano cut the lead to 2-1 with his fifth goal at 18:12, but Brent Burns made it 3-1 at 2:09 of the third period.

Video: CBJ@SJS: Burns backhands rebound past Merzlikins

"We've been in every game since January 1," Sharks forward Evander Kane said. "It's just a matter of finding a way to win instead of finding a way to lose."

Labanc gave San Jose a 1-0 lead at 1:01 of the second period when he slipped a shot from the slot under Merzlikins.

 

They said it 

"A big part of the night was that we didn't get a sustained forecheck going until the very end of the game. They got to play to their strengths, which is spreading out. They ran us around a little bit in our end. They really funnel a lot of pucks to the net so it gets you scrambling." -- Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno 

"We're playing in the best league in the world and the other team gets a vote. There's going to be breakdowns, there's going to be chances and he's been there to make a save when there have been." -- Sharks defenseman Brent Burns on goalie Aaron Dell

 

Need to know

Thornton played his 1,612th NHL game to tie Ray Bourque for 11th place on the all-time list. … San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson extended his point streak to four games (one goal, four assists). … Tortorella coached his 1,302nd NHL game to pass Mike Babcock for 12th place on the all-time list. … Columbus forward Gustav Nyquist played 18:08 in his first game in San Jose since signing a four-year contract with the Blue Jackets on July 1, 2019. 

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Sharks: Host the Dallas Stars on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCA, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)

Video: Balanced attack helps Sharks beat Blue Jackets, 3-1

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