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Blue Jackets cage Sharks

Columbus’ skill players led the way

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

After winning losing against the other tanking competition from California earlier in the week, the San Jose Sharks came to town to see if they could further separate themselves from the bottom of the standings. Which team was able to out bad the other and inch themselves closer to lottery pick?

1st Period

The first shot for either side didn’t occur until 4:05 into the first. Is this how the rest of the game would go?

The Sharks had a prime chance after a turnover, but Sillinger was able to get his stick in the way of a Shark that had a partially open net. The result was a hooking penalty, but at least the scoreboard still showed zeros.

Korpi turned away three shots on the Sharks power play and the Columbus penalty kill successfully killed it off.

A quick breakout by the Sharks caught the Jackets on a change and resulted in a two-on-one break. Meier was able to sneak the puck past Korpi, who nearly had the save.

SJS Goal 1-0: Meier (Gregor, Hertl) 10:49

To say the Blue Jackets were dominated in the first period would be an understatement. Barely spending any time in their opponent's zone, they were outshot 14-2 and lost the 5v5 unblocked shot attempt battle 13-5. Not one Blue Jacket had an xGF% above 50.

2nd Period

The Jackets came out with a better pace to start the second period. The Sillinger line of Marchenko and Bemstrom spent a good amount of time in the Sharks’ zone, but the blue sweaters were still having a hard time getting pucks on net.

The incompetent defense of the Jackets reared its ugly head and allowed the Sharks to go up by two. Bonino found a rebound and was able to wrap the puck around the back of the net and in behind Korpi. It wasn’t a quick, fluid wraparound goal and there was no defender on the far side of the net to contest Bonino.

SJS Goal 2-0: Bonino (Sturm, Megna) 5:39

Olivier and Gadjovich dropped the gloves off the faceoff that immediately followed the goal. The contest looked pretty even and ended in a stalemate.

The Jackets went to the power play after a Sharks hooking penalty. Sillinger nearly scored on the six-on-five. He will score again at some point. Maybe. Magically, the Jackets were actually able to score a goal with a man advantage. Laine was able to draw the defense towards him and then find an open Gaudreau on the opposite side. Johnny found a hole through traffic to get the Jackets on the scoresheet.

Unbelievably, it was Gaudreau’s first power play goal as a Blue Jacket. It took 46 games. Notably, Laine also only has one on the season.

CBJ PP Goal 2-1: Gaudreau (Laine, Blankenburg) 11:19

Less than 90 seconds later, Johnson came streaking up the ice and made a nifty pass over to Jenner to tie the game. The rookie showed great poise as the defender stepped up last second to challenge him.

CBJ Goal 2-2: Jenner (Johnson, Nyquist) 12:31

The Sharks managed to get several odd man rushes throughout the period. Luckily for the Jackets, the weren’t able to connect on any of them.

The second period was the opposite of the first as the Jackets were able to outshoot the Sharks 12-6. Interestingly enough, the Jackets still managed to lose the high danger chance battle, signifying that the defense still needed to be better in the third.

3rd Period

It took less than two minutes for the Sharks to regain the lead. A shot off the post caused a scramble in front of the net. Korpi very briefly rolled on top of the puck, but it came loose before the whistle was blown. Sturm muscled his way to the puck and poked it home.

SJS Goal 3-2: Sturm (unassisted) 1:55

The score did not remain uneven for long. Roslovic found Laine from behind the net and the Finn did not waste the pretty pass.

CBJ Goal 3-3: Laine (Roslovic, Gaudreau) 3:04

Gregor went off for holding and gave the Jackets a great chance to take their first lead of the game. The first unit had several chances that included a Laine rocket going off the crossbar. The second unit was not able to get much of anything going.

The Sharks nearly scored on yet another odd man rush opportunity. Korpi was forced to make several saves to keep the game even.

Nyquist put the Jackets ahead for the first time after a great individual effort. He was able to steal the puck on the forecheck and the puck slid right to the stick of Johnson. KJ simply tapped the puck back to Nyquist who ripped the puck past Kahkonen.

CBJ Goal 4-3: Nyquist (Johnson) 12:38

Kuraly put home the empty netter to secure the victory.

CBJ EN Goal 5-3: Kuraly (Blankenburg, Peeke) 18:56

Final Thoughts

This was a battle between two bad teams and it showed. Lots of turnovers, defensive lapses, and long stretches of bad play. In the end, the Blue Jackets were able to outskill the Sharks and were led by the talents of Gaudreau, Laine, Johnson, and Nyquist. It was nice to see Laine and Gaudreau have good games on the same night. Credit is also due to Berni and Roslovic for their solid play.

A very tough four game road trip awaits this team next week and this win should give them at least a small boost of confidence. Games in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Seattle will provide a difficult test for a team that has struggled on the road.

Sillinger had a rough game, especially in the periods one and two. He’s now 2-5-7 in 41 games this season. I am shocked that he hasn’t been sent to Cleveland yet. I’m not sure what benefit he’s getting from having to slog through these difficult performances and long scoring droughts.

First period aside, it was enjoyable to see the Jackets come out and use the talent in their lineup to gain an upper hand on the opponent.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets take on the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at 9:30PM ET.