Blue Jackets-Sharks Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (17-32-8-4) at San Jose Sharks (29-16-11-5).
TIME: Monday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
Marco Sturm has played a big role in the San Jose Sharks' surge toward a
Pacific Division title.
Sturm will look to continue his recent tear when the Sharks return home to
face the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After registering just one goal and two assists in 12 games in January,
Sturm has come alive in February, recording five goals and five assists in
The 25-year-old left wing has been especially good over his last four games,
scoring three goals and adding four assists for San Jose, which won three of
those games and is four points ahead of Dallas in the Pacific.
Picked 21st overall in the 1996 draft, Sturm had a goal and two assists in
the Sharks' 6-3 win in Chicago on Thursday.
"It was a big game for us," Sturm said. "We just wanted to go hard
against these guys. Our line was clicking real good. They came out a little
flat and we took advantage."
Patrick Marleau and Vincent Damphousse each had power-play goals and an
assist for the Sharks, who play four of their next five at home, where they
have lost just seven times all season (14-5-7-2).
The Blue Jackets have lost three straight and six of eight, but hope to play
solid hockey the rest of the way now that Rick Nash has broken out of his
longest scoring drought of the season.
Nash, the top overall pick in the 2002 draft, ended an eight-game drought
with two goals in Friday's 4-3 loss to Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-4, 206-pound left wing is tied with Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for
the NHL lead in goals with 33 and power-play goals with 15.
"It's a pretty big relief," said Nash, 19. "The season is full of ups and
downs, so you can't go through a whole season scoring in every game or every
other game. You are going to have your slumps."
Columbus is winless in its last 10 road games (0-7-3), including five
straight losses, and is tied with Chicago for the fewest points in the Western
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 46 points, 4th place (tied), 34 PB, Central
Division. Sharks - 74 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nash, 33 goals and 44 points; David Vyborny, 22
assists; Jody Shelley, 166 PIM. Sharks - Marleau, 26 goals and 45 points;
Damphousse, 22 assists; Scott Parker, 86 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 21): Blue Jackets - Power play: 13.9 percent (43
for 309), 26th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (203 for 244),
21st. Sharks - Power play: 15.2 percent (39 for 256), 20th (tied). Penalty
killing: 85.1 percent (211 for 248), 8th (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (15-26-7, 3 SO, 2.50 GAA); Fred
Brathwaite (2-9-1, 3.41); Pascal Leclaire (0-1-0, 0, 3.05). Sharks - Evgeni
Nabokov (19-15-7, 7, 2.05); Vesa Toskala (10-6-4, 2.07).
SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 14; Sharks, 2-1, OT. At Columbus, Sturm jammed in a loose
puck with 16.1 seconds left in overtime - on the Sharks' franchise-record 50th
shot - to give San Jose the victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-20-4-2 on the road; Sharks - 14-5-7-2 at