Feb 7, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tommy Wingels (57) celebrates with defenseman Jason Demers (5) after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks Head Into Olympic Break With 3-2 Win Over Blue Jackets

Feb 7, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tommy Wingels (57) scores a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

No Jacket Required- The Sharks despite their recent struggles will at least have a good feeling going into the Olympic Break. John McCarthy scored his first NHL goal in three years while Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingles also put pucks into the net in Team Teal’s 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The win for the Sharks put them within five points of Pacific Division leader Anaheim who was idle Friday. The Sharks on the evening heavily outshot the Blue Jackets by a 47-21 margin however had a very difficult time getting any rubber biscuits past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky who was able to turn away the vast majority of Sharks scoring chances. Meanwhile Antti Niemi had some close calls in the net for the Sharks however managed to make 19 saves to preserve the victory.  The Sharks got off to a quick start in the first period as McCarthy and Marleau both scored within the first eight minutes and change. However a very tough to crack Blue Jackets forecheck kept the Sharks honest for most of the evening. The Sharks also had more struggles on the power play which left the door open for the Blue Jackets going 0 for 5 on the evening, and ending this game with a one for 29 slump. Despite some of the problems the Sharks had offensively, where they were strong Friday was in their defensive effort as they were able keep Columbus scoring chances to a minimum despite their forecheck. This game also marked the 435th game for Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan behind the Team Teal bench, surpassing former Sharks Head Coach (and current LA Kings Head Coach) Darryl Sutter for most games as the Sharks top man in charge.

Feb 7, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) shoots the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

A Quick Start- McCarthy got the Sharks on the board just 3:23 into the opening period as he was able to tip a puck past Bobrovsky near the Columbus goal crease after taking a perfect feed pass from James Sheppard. Five minutes later the Sharks increased their lead to 2-0 after Patrick Marleau was able to tip the puck past Bobrovsky off of a shot on goal from Scott Hannan. Marleau’s tip in beat Bobrovsky five hole, a place where he is very rarely beaten. Hannan was able to shoot the puck back towards Marleau and the Blue Jackets goal after following up a hard shot on goal from Brent Burns. Later in the period Columbus’ Boone Jenner thought he had scored when he was able to bat a puck past Niemi into the Sharks net. After a review of the goal the score was disallowed as Jenner’s stick was clearly over the height of the crossbar. This would turn out to be a critical play in the game the way things would ultimately turn out. Niemi would go on to make nine saves for the period while Bobrovsky would make 11.

Feb 7, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) attempts to shoot the puck against San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart (7) and goalie Antti Niemi (31) during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Jackets Turn Up Heat- The Sharks entering the middle period with a two goal lead quickly found out how temporary that could be. Just 18 seconds into the period Ryan Johansen intercepted Joe Thornton’s attempt to clear the puck out of the Team Teal defensive zone and immediately drilled it back towards Niemi. The hard shot just barely beat Niemi’s outstretched glove and before most fans could back to their seats Columbus had cut the Sharks lead to 2-1. The rest of the period was a true exercise in frustrating hockey for the Sharks as they would get three power play chances, including a double minor but still could not buy a goal. An interference penalty to Martin Havlat more than halfway through this sequence ended the huge opportunity the Sharks who in the first two minutes of this chance got pressure on and around Bobrovsky and the Columbus goal. The Sharks got another power play later in the period where they best play ended up being a save by Niemi of a short handed breakaway chance by the Blue Jacket’s Matt Calbert. However the Blue Jackets on the four power play chances they had were no better at converting them as the Sharks penalty kill units had a huge game. The Sharks would also outshoot the Blue Jackets in the second period by a 15-8 margin yet still had a tough time with Columbus’ forecheck deep in their own zone.

Hot Wingles- The third period started out with the Sharks creating a strong a dominant forecheck of their own and controlled the puck in Columbus’ zone for better than half of the final period. The Sharks more than halfway through the final period had a 13-1 shot advantage. The Sharks would finally find a way to get a puck past Bobrovsky one more time when Jason Demers’ shot on goal actually got past the Blue Jackets goalie only to slow down in the crease. With Bobrovsky having fallen out of position Wingles seized the opportunity in front of him and tapped in the lose puck with Columbus defenders trying to pounce on him. The Sharks would keep up the assault on the Blue Jackets defensive end of the ice but could not get anything further. Columbus was able to stay in the game and make things very interesting when Jenner who was denied a goal in the first period from his high stick was able get one past Niemi as the Blue Jackets again were able to capitalize on a Team Teal turnover down low. The Blue Jackets came close to tying the game with just under a minute remaining when Ryan Murray got the perfect feed pass to Cam Atkinson who just could not get his stick on it. Murray had gotten Niemi to commit towards him before attempting the pass to Atkinson who had an open area of the net in front of him. The Sharks were able to grind out the final minute of the contest and hung on for the win.

Twitter Quote- “Was a great way to end before break! Fans were awesome …everyone have a great olympic break!” from @jasondemers5 via @SanJoseSharks

Olympic Hockey- The San Jose Sharks have four players going to the Sochi Olympics. Joe Pavelski will be playing for Team USA while Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will don sweaters for Team Canada. Antti Niemi is on the roster for Team Finland. The Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament starts next Wednesday (February 12th). The USA and Canada begin play next Thursday (Feb 13th) as the USA takes on Slovakia while Team Canada takes on Norway.

Next Sharks Game- The Sharks will resume their season in 20 days on February 27th as the Sharks travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. The Sharks owe the Flyers one after Philadelphia beat Team Teal 5-2 at the Shark Tank this past Tuesday. The puck drops at 4pm PT (7pm ET in Philly). The game can be seen on CSN in Northern California and also heard on the Sharks Radio Network.

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Tags: Antti Niemi John McCarthy Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks Tommy Wingles

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