Much of San Jose’s focus Friday was on the two games lost on the road with two-goal third period leads and not on gaining two road points. As a result, San Jose is two points behind Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division.
“I can’t remember us giving up two-goal leads in the third period with five minutes left to go since I’ve been a Shark,” Joe Thornton
said. “It’s very uncharacteristic of this team.”
The difficulties for San Jose aren’t the two points they missed, but how they lost out on them.
“A team can play a great 55 minutes and five minutes will kill you. You can’t let your guard down,” Patrick Marleau
said. “It’s a good league and teams will get bounces. It was very disappointing. We could’ve come home with two more points than we did. We had 10 minutes we didn’t play and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Head Coach Todd McLellan told half of the team to take Friday off. San Jose had played six times in 10 days (with three travel days) and that’s even more games on average than is usually seen during the playoffs. They also have garnered 11 of 14 points in that stretch in moving up in the conference rankings.
“If you don’t have the gas in the tank, it’s pretty hard to perform,” McLellan said. “We’ve asked a lot of five or six players over the last 10 days. We have to set ourselves up to win a game tomorrow night. That’s why half the team skated today and the other half rested. Every team in the League goes through it.”
One can be sure that when San Jose plays host to Columbus tomorrow night, there won’t be any slacking if they get a two-goal lead.
“You look at both sides of it,” Marleau said. “Those should be games you bring home one more point in each game. It’s not going to be hard to fix, but we have to fix it.”
“We can get better in those situations, have a little more poise and get through it,” McLellan said. “We’ll be in that situation many more times and we’ll fail again until we do figure it out. I’d like to think the first thing will happen.”
There has to be a little credit given for pushing the lead to two goals on the road and ensuring a point in each city, but it wasn’t just the ending each night that displeased McLellan.
“I didn’t like our starts in either game on the road,” McLellan said. “I didn’t like the first 10 minutes in Denver and I didn’t like the first 10 minutes in Dallas. If you come out the first 10 minutes, it sets you up for the rest of the night. The starts have to be better and the back end of the game has to be better as well. The middle parts, once we fell behind, we got really determined.”
While San Jose is 3-3-2 away from HP Pavilion, they’re dominant at home, having gone 6-2-2.
“We got nine of the 10 points,” McLellan said of the recent five-game home stand. “Home ice has been kind to us and hopefully we can continue it tomorrow.”
ABOUT THE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
The Sharks haven’t seen Columbus since the teams split the two games in Sweden. The Blue Jackets, who play in Anaheim tonight, are 10-6-0 and have won four of their last six games. One of those wins came in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the Kings first loss at home in nine games.
Columbus, under rookie Head Coach Scott Arniel, has been getting top performances from center Derick Brassard (eight assists and 13 points), center R.J. Umberger (six goals and 10 points) and left wing Rick Nash (team-leading eight goals). But what has caught McLellan’s eyes is the play of defensemen Mark Methot (plus-10) and Rostislav Klesla (plus-14) and the goaltending combination of Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason (among the NHL’s top-10).
“They’re getting some real good seasons out of guys like Methot and Klesla on their back end,” McLellan said. “Their goaltending has been very good. They play a good team game and a hard team game.”
“We haven’t seen them since Stockholm,” Thornton said. “They’ve played really well this year.”
Because of the Sweden trip, Saturday’s game will be the lone regular season appearance by Columbus in San Jose.
The Sharks won’t know for sure until Saturday morning whether defensemen Douglas Murray
and Niclas Wallin will play. However, both practiced on Friday.
BACK TO WORCESTER
Defenseman Mike Moore
and left wing Frazer McLaren have been assigned to Worcester.
TO THE DENTIST
Center Joe Pavelski
ended up with seven stitches on the outside and two on the inside of his mouth. The injury occurred when he was hit by an errant puck while on the bench in Dallas.
San Jose will play hosts to Columbus at 7:30 Saturday night at HP Pavilion at San Jose. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.