The San Jose Sharks power play is officially back on track. The League's top unit had dropped as far down as sixth, but surged back to the top with a six power-play goal performance on Thursday followed by a five power-play goal performance on Saturday. With their five goals on the man advantage on Saturday, the Sharks downed a feisty Columbus Blue Jackets squad, 5-2.
Click here for video highlights from Saturday’s game.
The Columbus Blue Jackets made their first trip to San Jose this season as the two teams met for the Saturday night tilt at the HP Pavilion at San Jose. Vesa Toskala manned the nets for San Jose, fresh off his relief victory on Thursday night against the Red Wings. Opposite Toskala was fellow countrymen Fredrik Norrena as the two Finnish goaltenders squared off.
The game’s first two minutes passed quickly and without much action, but that trend would not continue for long. Just after the two minute mark, Doug Murray laid out Columbus forward Jason Chimera with a brilliant open ice hit, opening a cut behind the winger’s left ear.
The Sharks would find themselves on a four-on-three man advantage three minutes into the first after coincidental minors to Ryane Clowe and Manny Malhotra, and then a high-sticking minor to Rostislav Klesla. At 15:38, the Sharks would make the Jackets play for their early indiscretions as Patrick Marleau scored, giving the Sharks the early 1-0 lead.
Just 38 seconds later, Clowe would stretch the Sharks lead to 2-0. Clowe camped out in front of Norrena and jammed home the rebound from Marleau’s shot as the Sharks power play looked to be as lethal as it was two nights earlier against Detroit.
When Ole-Kristian Tollefsen starting taking cheap shots with several players, Christian Ehrhoff unexpectedly stepped up and went to bat for his teammates. The slick skating German was slick with his fist, landing several big blows before taking Tollefsen down in a headlock. The crowd displayed their appreciation with a roaring applause.
When Sergei Fedorov ran Josh Gorges into the corner, both players were forced to leave the ice. An elbow by Fedorov at the last moment sent Gorges’ face into the boards, leaving the blueliner wobbly and blood on the ice. Fedorov was injured as well and left with an upper body injury.
San Jose had a chance to make it a three-goal lead late in the third, could not convert on a late power play.
Columbus would take advantage of three consecutive power plays in the second period to close the gap to two. On their tally, Nikolai Zherdev tipped an Adam Foote point shot that Toskala had no chance on.
With less than two minutes remaining, San Jose jumped the lead to 3-1. With three Sharks players parked in front of Norrena, along with two Columbus defenders, Ehrhoff lasered his shot to the far corner, giving San Jose three power play goals on the night.
Ehrhoff now needed just as assist for the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Team Teal would take the two-goal lead into the second intermission.
Five minutes into the third, Team Teal scored their fourth power play of the game and it was Clowe scoring posting his second two-goal game in as many nights. While already up a man, a delayed penalty was called. San Jose’s initial shot stopped, but with the puck loose to the side of the net, and Norrena down, Clowe batted it across the line to make it 4-1.
It was not goals, but hits that brought cheers upon the Sharks. On one shift, both Marleau and Murray flattened Blue Jackets on opposite ends of the ice.
Zherdev scored a power play tally with five minutes remaining, but a four minute double minor to David Vyborny sealed away much hope for the visitors. Ron Wilson knew who had two goals and when Clowe was sent on the ice, he rewarded the fans. Using his lunchbox style of play, Clowe worked around a defender for the loose rebound and shoved it across the goal line.
Each team was missing one of their top young stars as Milan Michalek (groin) and Rick Nash both sat out of the contest.
The Sharks conclude their brief three-game homestand on Wednesday as the Edmonton Oilers return to San Jose for the first time since the 2006 Western Conference Semifinal series against the Sharks. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.