Feb 7, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) blocks a shot by Columbus Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie (24) during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks Hit the Road in Columbus: Game Preview


If there ever is a time for the San Jose Sharks to keep winning and gaining points, it’s now.

The Sharks, who have spent the majority of the season trailing the Ducks by a large margin for the Pacific Division lead, suddenly find themselves within just two points of Anaheim, who has fallen apart as of late.

A win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road on Thursday night would, in fact, give them the lead in the division, since they own the tiebreaker at the moment against the Ducks.

But the Sharks, who are on a three-game win streak, cannot focus too much on the standings right now. There is still plenty of time left in the season, and all they should be worrying about is the next opponent. It just so happens that the Blue Jackets are on a tear as well, winners of five of their last six. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been a stone wall as of late, as the Jackets have allowed two goals or less in those five games.

The last time these two teams met was before the Olympic break, when San Jose bested Columbus 3-2 at home. In Columbus, however, the Sharks have not fared well as of late, as they have dropped three straight at Nationwide Arena. Add in the fact that the Blue Jackets are fighting for a playoff spot, and you can bet that they will bring their “A-game” in front of their home crowd.

If the Sharks want to climb up the ladder in their division, it will take a heck of an effort tonight.

Tale of the Tape

Sharks

  • Goals for per game: 2.97 (7th)
  • Goals against per game: 2.74 (17th)
  • Shots per game: 35.1 (1st)
  • Shots against per game: 27.5 (5th)
  • Penalty minutes: 632 (5th)
  • Power play percentage: 16.0% (23rd)
  • Penalty kill percentage: 84.2% (6th)

Blue Jackets:

  • Goals for per game: 2.86 (8th)
  • Goals against per game: 2.98 (25th)
  • Shots per game: 28.8 (23rd)
  • Shots against per game: 30.8 (T-23rd)
  • Penalty minutes: 733 (19th)
  • Power play percentage: 18.6% (16th)
  • Penalty kill percentage: 82.1% (14th)

Top Performers

Sharks: Joe Pavelski (34 G, 31 A), Joe Thornton (9 G, 55 A), Patrick Marleau (26 G, 31 A)

Blue Jackets: Ryan Johansen (25 G, 24 A), Brandon Dubinsky (13 G, 26 A), James Wisniewski (5 G, 33 A)

Injury Report

Sharks: Raffi Torres (general body soreness) did not play in the last game. Defenseman Brad Stuart (upper body) is day-to-day. Forward Tomas Hertl (knee) is skating, but remains out indefinitely.

Blue Jackets: Defenseman Fedor Tyutin (ankle) won’t play Thursday but could return Saturday. Defenseman Ryan Murray (knee surgery) is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Forwards Jared Boll (left ankle surgery), Jack Skille (upper body) and Oliver Gabriel (torn Achilles) are on IR.

Probable Lines (used in teams’ previous games) 

SAN JOSE (42-17-7, 93 points)

Forwards

Pavelski-Thornton-Burns

Marleau-Couture-Nieto

Kennedy-Sheppard-Wingels

Brown-Desjardins-Burish

Defensemen

Vlasic-Demers

Hannan-Braun

Irwin-Boyle

Goalies

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

COLUMBUS (34-26-5)

Forwards

Calvert-Dubinsky-Horton

Foligno-Johansen-Jenner

Umberger-Anisimov-Atkinson

MacKenzie-Letestu-Tropp

Defensemen

Johnson-Savard

Nikitin-Wisniewski

Schultz-Prout

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curits McElhinney

Game Info

Opening face-off: 4:00 PST

Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH

TV: LOCAL

Tags: San Jose Sharks