Game 44 Recap: Jackets Fall Just Short Against the Sharks

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 14: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates a third period goal with teammates while playing the San Jose Sharks at Nationwide Arena on January 14, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. The San Jose Sharks won the game 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Jackets put forth another great effort last night, showing skill, hard work and determination. There was no quit in this team against the Sharks, but they fell just short after a late third period goal by Patrick Marleau gave the visiting Sharks the victory.

Check after the jump for a recap of last night's events.

First Period

The Sharks came out strong, peppering Columbus starter Curtis Sanford early. Sanford stood tall, making a handful of good saves to keep his team in it.

At the 4:19 mark, Rick Nash got tangled up with Douglas Murray along the boards, and while fighting for the puck the knob of Nash's stick knicked Murray in the face, drawing blood. The Captain was given a four-minute double minor for high sticking.

The Jackets penalty kill, led by Sanford, was outstanding. Not only did they prevent the Sharks from scoring, but they also prevented the high powered team from even setting up in the offensive zone for any length of time.

The strong kill gave the Jackets some life and they started to even out the shot totals with the Sharks, putting pucks on San Jose starter Thomas Greiss. Their best chance early came on a shot from a point that deflected off of Ryan Johansen. The puck kicked up and literally crawled over the crossbar.

At the 10:34 mark, the Jackets went to the powerplay. While they failed to score, they were able to set up in the Sharks' zone for a majority of the two minutes and showed some great puck movement. Nikita Nikitin was cool as a cucumber leading the rush from the back end.

The teams traded chances until the final minute or so, when the ice started to tilt in the Jacket's favor. The best scoring chance for the Jackets came when Derick Brassard put a shot on Greiss, looking to bank it off the goaltender. The puck dropped dead in front of Greiss, who had lost sight of the puck, but the puck was cleared before a Jacket forward could poke it in the net.

End of the first, 0-0.

Second Period

The middle period started innocently enough, with the Jackets looking confident in the offensive zone. Tomas Kubalik had a particularly strong shift early on, showing some great chemistry with Ryan Johansen. This is a pairing that I'd love to see develop going forward. If things go as expected at the trade deadline, with the Jackets purging a handful of wingers, there will be lots of time to see these two grow together.

Things got nasty at the three-minute mark. Columbus winger Dane Byers skated towards a loose puck near the boards, and en route lowered the boom on Andrew Desjardins. The hit caught Desjardins high, knocking him to the ice. Sharks forward Brad Winchester immediatly came to his teammates aid, throwing down with Byers. The end result was Winchester receiving 2-5-10 for instigating and fighting, plus a misconduct while Byers was given 2-5-10 including a match penalty for intent to injure. He'll no doubt face disciplinary action from the league.

The teams played four-on-four for the next two minutes, but neither team was able to score. After two minutes, the Sharks went on a three-minute partial powerplay, but were unable to solve Sanford.

With six minutes left in the second, Patrick Marleau had an excellent chance, when after wiring a shot on Sanford, the puck squeaked out of the goalie's equipment and crawled along the ice towards the near post. Luckily for Sanford a teammate was able to sweep the puck behind the net.

At the 14:59 mark, while on the powerplay, the goose egg was broken. Ryane Clowe batted a puck out of mid-air at the side of the net past Sanford. The play was reviewed, but Clowe's stick was determined to be under the crossbar.

1-0 Sharks: Ryane Clowe (Logan Couture, Brent Burns)

The Jackets didn't seem fazed by the goal against, applying pressure on the Sharks' defense. Derick Brassard was making things happen offensively, and Nash seemed to be playing with a real chip on his shoulder. It was a great thing to see.

The Jackets had a fantastic chance late in the period, but Greiss came up with an amazing save on Fedor Tyutin. The Sharks are in great shape between the pipes with Antti Niemi and Greiss going forward.

End of the second period, 1-0 Sharks.

Third Period

The Jackets were the better team out of the gate. Derek Dorsett had a good chance early but Greiss came up with another stellar save.

The Jackets went up by a man at the 2:19 mark when Justin Braun went off for tripping. The Jackets were unable to pot one, but the combination of Johansen and Kubalik were effective cycling the puck and creating space for themselves.

The play see-sawed until the 6:53 mark, when we were treated to a Rick Nash classic. The big winger carried the puck up-ice through the middle. Using a Sharks defenseman as a screen, he wired a hard wrister top shelf over Greiss to tie the game.

1-1: Rick Nash (Nikita Nikitin, Antoine Vermette)

Both squads spent the next few minutes gunning to take the lead. They traded chances, and in Columbus' case, they were led by Derick Brassard. Brass, who had a very strong game against Phoenix on Friday, was equally as effective last night.

The Jackets dominated play until the 17:03 mark of the third, when their hearts were broken by Patrick Marleau. Joe Pavelski wired a shot on Sanford, but the rebound was kicked right to Marleau. Marleau had the open net staring at him, and fired the puck in the net to take the lead.

2-1 Sharks: Patrick Marleau (Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle)

The Jackets worked hard to tie the game, pulling Sanford with thirty seconds left. The play was frantic, with the Jackets buzzing around the net. A misplayed pass at the Sharks blueline killed the attack, and the Jackets fell to the Sharks.

Final Score: 2-1 Sharks.

Standard Bearers:

  • The Jackets penalty kill. Yes, they gave up a goal to Clowe, but they were busy tonight killing off double minors and majors for the first two periods.
  • Derick Brassard had another strong game. I'll say this much- I'd rather have a Brass who's playing like he can than something we could get in a trade for him.
  • Rick Nash is on fire.
  • Sanford had another strong game, it's too bad his rebound on the winning goal couldn't have been cleared by one of his defenders.

Bottom of the Barrel

  • Dane Byers. While I love his energy and physical play, his hit on Desjardins was the kind of hit that needs to be out of the game. A suspension is likely.
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