COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks expected a win or a tie. The
Columbus Blue Jackets have come to expect the worst.
Alyn McCauley scored with 4:59 left and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves in the
Sharks' 1-0 victory over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
"We scored in the end," Nabokov said after his fourth shutout this season
and the 21st of his career. "Maybe it would have been fair to have a tie."
The Blue Jackets would have gladly accepted a point, but again they gave up
a late goal to fritter away 55 minutes of hard work.
"It's disappointing because we played well enough to win. But I'm getting
tired of saying that," Columbus coach Doug MacLean said.
Marc Denis stopped 28 shots for Columbus, which has lost six in a row at
home. The Blue Jackets tied their worst home stretch ever, going 0-6-1-1 in
their last eight games at Nationwide Arena.
"Let's just hope that this is the end of something that's getting really
old and the start of something new," Denis said. "Let's hope we're able to
turn the page on a very mediocre year -- 2003 hasn't been kind."
McCauley was in the slot when he took a pass from Nils Ekman and slammed a
slap shot through Denis' pads. It was McCauley's 10th goal of the season. Rob
Davison also assisted.
"I wasn't really concentrating on picking any part of the net," McCauley
said after the Sharks moved to 5-0-1-0 in their last six games.
He cracked, "Lo and behold, that one found a way to get in. The other ones
I got out my geometry set and tried to figure out the angle that I needed to
score on and it didn't work."
There were boos from a capacity crowd of 18,136 as the Blue Jackets -- who
have the worst record in the NHL -- left the ice.
"That's 15 one-goal losses this year," MacLean said. "That's just
Nabokov didn't have to make many outstanding saves but handled the tough
shots he did face. He stopped NHL goals leader Rick Nash on a breakaway late in
the first period and made a big save on Nash's power-play drive midway through
the second period.
"I don't think we played awesome, but we played smart," Nabokov said. "We
took what they gave us. In a game like this, one goal is everything. Every
shot's important and they were in front of the net all the time."
Sharks coach Ron Wilson said it became apparent the outcome would likely
turn on one play.
"About halfway through the game, we just decided it might be one of those
0-0 or 1-0 games and we'd better be on our toes," he said. "We didn't seem to
have our normal legs. We were able to skate OK but we didn't have the extra zip
until maybe the third period came along. We looked a little faster, a little
more on the ball. We haven't had a practice since before Christmas because of
Perhaps Columbus' best chance at a goal came with 12:50 remaining when Geoff
Sanderson's shot was just wide of the net.
Denis has lost his last eight decisions. His last victory came Dec. 2