The Sharks were in Nationwide Arena last night, playing in their sixth and final game of an extended road trip. They had played the night before, and the Jackets needed to get off to a quick start to capitalize on any fatigue.
Both teams were sluggish for most of the opening period, with very little consistent flow. In what would be a bit of a theme for the Sharks, Brent Burns drew a tripping call on Kerby Rychel, pulling off a great performance after getting tapped on the skate. The Jackets would kill the penalty.
Prout and some guy named Haley dropped the mitts midway through the first. After some early wrestling, Haley popped off a couple shots before Prout was able to get his right hand loose, at which point he started feeding big ones to Haley. On the ensuing faceoff, Gregory Campbell and Mike Brown attempted a staged bout, but Brown just immediately knocked Campbell to the ice. Strange, indeed.
The Jackets would get a chance on the man advantage shortly after, but couldn't get set up on what was one of the uglier powerplays we've seen from them lately.
The Sharks would take the lead at 16:27, when after a scramble in front of starter Sergei Bobrovsky, Patrick Marleau was left alone to flip the puck into the net.
Coach John Tortorella shuffled his centers to start the second period, moving Ryan Johansen from the top line to the fourth, and placing William Karlsson on the top line with Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner.
On Johansen's second shift with his new linemates, he won an offensive zone faceoff, and after a blocked shot the puck bounced around in front of Sharks goalie Alex Stalock, before Johansen was able to backhand it into the net.
Moments later, the other new trio went to work. Saad carried the puck up the right wing, firing a pass cross-ice to Karlsson. Karlsson wired the puck to Boone on the doorstep, where he was able to pot the puck into the open net, giving the Jackets the lead. Tic-tac-toe.
The Jackets then embarked on an extended sequence of sustained pressure. It was all Jackets, and they came close to taking a two-goal lead off the stick of Jack Johnson, who was able to beat Stalock but not the post. Johnson was very good last night.
Like the Burns performance earlier, Joe Pavelski was brushed by the stick of Rene Bourque, but if the Sharks' captain's reaction was any indicator, you'd have thought that Bourque carved a tooth out of his jaw. Sharks powerplay.
That powerplay would kick off a string of calls. Halfway through the first penalty, Burns was sent to the box, followed shortly after by Justin Braun. The Jackets were unable to convert on the 4-on-3, nor on the 5-on-3 or 5-on-4 powerplays.
The first period saw the Sharks leading the way, but you have to give the second period to the Jackets.
The Jackets went up by two goals in the third, after a perfect cycle by the line of Scott Hartnell, Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson. Hartnell got the puck down low to Foligno, who circled to the net. The puck slid to Atkinson on the right side, who made no mistake in firing the puck behind Stalock. The Sharks wasted their coach's challenge on the play.
The Jackets were cruising, before the wheels fell off.
There was a distinct moment when the Jackets went from having the game under full control, to having no hands on the wheel whatsoever - around the 15:00 mark, Bourque was first held with no call, and then had his head and face slammed into the boards from behind. The referee was just a couple of feet away in full view of the incident, but refused to use his whistle. It was a pathetic non-call. Bourque would briefly leave the game and would later return.
The Jackets were a mess from that point on, and Pavelski was able to cut the lead to one goal, tipping a point shot past Bobrovsky. From the initial replay it looked like Pavelski's stick was a tad high, but there was no challenge.
Shortly thereafter, Pavelski was again drawing the ire of the Jackets, this time running over Bobrovsky. Again, no call from the officials.
The referee finally found his whistle, and in his eagerness to see if it still worked, called Dalton Prout for looking at somebody funny. Soft call, Sharks powerplay. Naturally, the Sharks needed only seconds to score off the stick of Brent Burns, who's one-timer tied the game.
With 6:45 left, the Jackets lost a defensive zone faceoff and Brenden Dillon lobbed the puck through traffic, where it found a hole and beat Bobrovsky to give the Sharks the lead. Bob was screened, but it still qualifies as a softie.
As Bob was pulled for the extra skater, Boone's pocket was picked by Pavelski in front of the net, and the puck was sent in to seal the deal.
FINAL SCORE: 5-3 Sharks
1 - For the advanced stats for this game, check out War on Ice
2 - I'm not one to go after refs, but the missed calls on Bourque and Bob deflated the Jackets. The fact that they called Prout on a cheesy call, leading to the tieing goal just added to the misery.
3 - It will be interesting to see how Johansen responds to his demotion. Despite scoring, Torts limited his ice time until the end of the third, briefly moving him back with his original linemates. Will he start on the top line next game?
4 - The Sharks sure know how to sell a call, man.
5 - Congrats to Andrew Bodnarchuk on his first game as a Jacket, and first NHL game since the 2009-2010 season. He showed some flashes of speed and skill with the puck.
6 - The Jackets are back in action on Wednesday in New Jersey.