The San Jose Sharks (43-17-7, 93 points) defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets (34-26-6, 74 points) by the score of 4-3 in the shootout. With the win the Sharks pull into a tie points-wise with the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division although the have played one more game than the Ducks.
Getting the start this evening for San Jose was Alex Stalock after Antti Niemi had started the previous couple of games. The decision to start Stalock tonight was probably because the Sharks are on the first half of a back-to-back.
For the second straight game the Sharks were without Raffi Torres who has been scratched due to soreness in his knee. Taking his place on the third line once again was Martin Havlat who looked good again setting up teammates.
On to the game, where both teams had bouts of dominant play throughout the game.
In the first period it was the Columbus Blue Jackets who got on the board first despite a strong start by the San Jose Sharks. The goal came after a San Jose won a faceoff just outside their blue line. However, the defensemen were caught in ‘no-man’s land’ and Nick Foligno, who realized this, pressured the puck creating a turnover. His linemate Ryan Johansen quickly fired a loose puck from the slot and before Stalock could pick it up it was behind him.
Later on in the period the Sharks would strike back after some great forechecking by Matt Nieto and Logan Couture. Nieto was the first man in, with Couture coming in afterwards, picking up a puck in the corner and then firing it to the front of the net where Patrick Marleau was open. All he had to do was redirect the pass on net and he was able to get it by Sergei Bobrovsky to make tie the game up at one.
In the second period San Jose was given a golden opportunity to retake the lead when they earned a brief five-on-three power play. Instead, they gave up a short-handed goal in their second-straight game right as the first penalty was ending and gave up a breakaway to R.J. Umburger who was just exiting the box. He was in all alone against Stalock and made the Sharks pay giving the Blue Jackets the lead once again.
In the third the San Jose Sharks would score twice in the first six minutes of the period to give them a 3-2 lead. Nieto’s goal, which came just 15 seconds in, gave his team a jump, and one they would carry on through the first half of the period.
Shortly after Marleau netted his second of the game on the power play following another short-handed odd-man rush for Columbus. However, due to a Couture back-check, that chance was diffused and resulted in Marleau’s goal the other way. That goal, which put the Sharks up 3-2, also ended a 0-20 slump for San Jose on the power play since the Olympic break.
However, the goals did not stop, and Columbus turned the pressure up. They scored twice, although the first one was waived off immediately by the official due to it being kicked in by Foligno. While he argued his cause, there was no arguing his actions.
Unfortunately, Columbus would put the puck in the net once more, and this time it counted. James Wisnewski fired a slapshot from the point and blasted it by Stalock who came way out of his crease to challenge the shot. After that it was 3-3.
With just a minute and a half left in regulation Brent Burns took a bad penalty and gave the Blue Jackets a power play. Fortunately for the San Jose Sharks Stalock was their best penalty killer and made a few great saves, including one incredible one as he had to move all the way across his crease just as time expired. After the buzzer you could tell he was pumped about that save as was Couture who went over and gave Stalock a high-five for earning at least a point for his Sharks.
In overtime the Blue Jackets kept buzzing thanks to starting the period with the man-advantage. They held most of the good scoring opportunities but could not get on the board. Neither could San Jose though, so things went to a shootout.
In the shootout Stalock continued his perfect ways by stopping all three shots his way. He is now 3-0 in the shootout and has stopped all 10 shots he’s face. That meant the San Jose Sharks only needed one goal to win, and that was off the stick of Joe Pavelski who outwaited Bobrovsky on the forehand then make a quick move to his backhand and roofed the puck, giving the Sharks the 4-3 victory on the road.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Alex Stalock (35 saves)
2. Patrick Marleau (2 goals, 4 shots)
3. Ryan Johansen (1 goal, 5 shots)