The San Jose Sharks (24-14-7) have fallen at home in regulation for just the second time this season to the Columbus Blue Jackets (22-17-7). With the 4-3 win the Blue Jackets sweep the season series against the Sharks winning all three games.
Even with the loss the Sharks know they will at least stay in fifth place because the team chasing them, the St. Louis Blues, also lost this evening. Also as of right now the L.A. Kings are tied with the Dallas Stars 3-3 in the middle of the third period. At this point in the season everybody is rooting for somebody, and tonight San Jose is rooting for Dallas so they have a chance to get home-ice advantage.
For some reason the Blue Jackets are the Sharks’ kryptonite and luckily for them will not face Columbus for at least the first round in the playoffs. For the third time neither of these top goaltenders was too spectacular although both made saves when their teams needed them most.
The glaring stat of the night has us looking at giveaways where San Jose had 17! That is bad, very bad, and was definitely their downfall. The game-winning goal came off of a very bad giveaway by Pavelski who could not be bailed out by his goaltender. In comparison Columbus had just six giveaways.
The Columbus Blue Jackets scored first with about three minutes left in the first period when Mark Letestu scored on a deflection. He got a pass from defenseman Jack Johnson who was along the boards and threw the puck to the front of the net. Letestu was there to tip the shot past Antti Niemi for the first and only goal of the period.
The Sharks had a chance earlier on in the game on the power play with the game still scoreless but they looked absolutely awful. Columbus was able to hold power play without a shot and even hardly any zone time. As soon as the Sharks got the puck into the zone the Blue Jackets got it right back out.
In the second period Columbus struck twice more on goals by Vinny Prospal and Letestu once again. Prospal’s goal came on a breakaway where he picked the corner against the San Jose goaltender making it a 2-0 game. Letestu’s goal came on the Blue Jackets’ first power play of the game. He shot the puck from the point with teammate Marian Gaborik standing in front creating enough of a screen to inhibit Niemi’s ability to see the puck.
Between Columbus’ two second period goals the Sharks were able to add one of their own on a goal by Martin Havlat. He received a great pass from Logan Couture who was beind the net and all Havlat had to do was tap the puck on net to put it by Sergei Bobrovsky. At the time his goal made the score 2-1 at which point Letestu scored his goal.
In the third period the Sharks closed the gap to 3-2 on a goal by Andrew Desjardins. He beat a Columbus defenseman to the puck at the blue line and was able to chip it past him resulting in a two-on-one advantage down low. He then proceeded to show great patience as he let another defenseman go sliding by who was trying to get in the passing lane as well as outlasting Bobrovsky who went down in panic. With the Blue Jackets netminder down Desjardins was able to get the puck by him to get San Jose back in the game.
San Jose then got a golden opportunity on the power play with about five minutes remaining in the game and they took advantage of it. Joe Pavelski scored on a one-timer and was able to beat Bobrovsky on the short side. He got a great feed from Scott Gomez who was in the corner and found Pavelski skating to the open area to the left of the Columbus net.
After the goal San Jose started playing an extra jump in their step but that resulted in them being a bit reckless. With about a minute and a half left it came back to bite them when Ryan Johansen picked Pavelski’s pocket at the San Jose blue-line and found himself in the slot. Johansen picked the corner and beat the San Jose netminder giving the Blue Jackets a 4-3 lead, one which they would not relinquish. The error proved to be a costly one for Pavelski and no doubt he’d like to have that one back.
GGS Three Stars
1. Mark Letestu (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Ryan Johansen (game-winning goal)
3. Vinny Prospal (1 goal, 1 assist)