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San Jose Sharks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets @NHLdotcom
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GAME: San Jose Sharks (3-3-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (1-5-0).

TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EDT.

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks hope to bounce back from an ugly third period as they continue their road trip against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nabokov has dominated the Blue Jackets since they entered the NHL in 2000-01. He is 11-2 with a 1.48 goals-against average and three shutouts in 13 starts against Columbus.

That bodes well for the Sharks, who are looking for answers after a 6-1 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday. San Jose played aggressively for two periods, dominating play and forging a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes, but multiple breakdowns led to five third-period goals for the Wild.

A sloppy play on defense by the Sharks led to the go-ahead goal, San Jose yielded a short-handed goal and Nabokov stopped just two of the first seven shots he faced in the third.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We had some guys with off nights who made some mistakes they normally don't make."

San Jose will be playing the third game of a six-game trip that also takes it to Nashville, Dallas and Los Angeles. The Sharks lost the trip opener 3-2 in overtime to Detroit on Monday.

While the Sharks are trying to forget a bad period, the Blue Jackets are trying to put a rough start to the season behind them. General manager Doug MacLean promised the city of Columbus that the team would challenge for a playoff spot in 2005-06, but the Blue Jackets don't appear up to fulfilling that vow so far.

Columbus lost 3-1 to Los Angeles on Sunday to close a four-game trip with three consecutive losses. The Blue Jackets yielded a pair of power-play goals to the Kings after killing off 28 of 30 power plays in the previous four games.

"When you're killing penalties all the time it puts too much on the team and they can't expect to catch up," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said.

Gallant's job has been made tougher because of injuries to left wing Rick Nash and rookie center Gilbert Brule, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Nash, who had 41 goals in the 2003-04 season, is expected to miss at least 10 more days with a sprained right ankle, and Brule is sidelined for at least a month with a fractured sternum. The Blue Jackets have scored just 11 goals in six games.

"This trip leaves us with question marks instead of solidifying the team and building chemistry," goalie Marc Denis said.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 19): Sharks - 7 points, 3rd place (tied), 3 PB, Pacific Division. Blue Jackets - 2 points, 5th place, 10 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm, 4 goals; Marleau and Milan Michalek, 4 assists; Marleau, 8 points; McLaren and Rob Davison, 12 PIM. Blue Jackets - Bryan Berard, Jan Hrdina and Dan Fritsche, 2 goals; Manny Malhotra, 4 assists; Berard and Malhotra, 4 points; Jody Shelley, 13 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 19): Sharks - Power play: 12.0 percent (6 for 50), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.9 percent (30 for 38), 23rd. Blue Jackets - Power play: 10.0 percent (4 for 40), 25th (tied). Penalty killing: 87.2 percent (41 for 47), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (3-2-1, 3.60 GAA); Vesa Toskala (0-1-0, 10.43). Blue Jackets - Denis (1-3-0, 3.01); Pascal Leclaire (0-2-0, 3.56).

SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 12; Sharks, 4-1. At San Jose, Calif., Jonathan Cheechoo assisted on a pair of goals by Sturm, and Nabokov stopped 26 shots as the Sharks won their home opener.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 1-3-1 on the road; Blue Jackets - 0-1-0 at home.

Associated Press

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