(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
The San Jose Sharks ended a perfect six-win road trip on Sunday, with a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the first time the Sharks swept a road trip longer than four games, and the first time they won six games on a single road trip.
Al Stalock got his first start since November 10, making 28 saves on 31 shots. Sharks goals came from Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns, Brenden Dillon, and two from Joe Pavelski. It was Brenden Dillon’s first goal of the season and the game winner. After missing Saturday’s game for personal matter, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer was back behind the bench in time for the game.
After the game, Joe Pavelski said the team did not set out on this trip thinking of a win streak:
We didn’t talk about it. We talked about one day at a time. You look back now, it’s just a long time from then. Six in a row. You know, it’s good but it’s… we need that. It’s what we expect. We expect to win on a nightly basis and give ourselves that opportunity. Once we’re here it’s “take the good from it and now we gotta translate it back home.”
The Sharks started the game well, out shooting the Blue Jackets 10-5 in the first period. Each team had a power play in the first but the only goal scored came at even strength from Patrick Marleau. Joonas Donskoi took a shot that resulted in a small rebound. Marleau was in front of the blue paint, where he could tap the puck under Sergei Bobrovsky and into the net. Donskoi and Ward got the assists.
Micheal Haley and Mike Brown both fought in the first period, within four seconds of each other, against Dalton Prout and Gregory Campbell respectively.
The Blue Jackets pushed back early in the second period, out shooting the Sharks 7-1 in the first five minutes. Their efforts paid off when Ryan Johansen, surrounded by Sharks in front of the net, poked the puck between his feet and through Stalock. Assists went to Kerby Reichert and Josh Anderson.
Seconds later, the home team took the lead with a goal from Boone Jenner. An odd-man rush drew Stalock to the left, and a cross-ice pass left an open net for Jenner to shoot at. Assists went to William Karlsson and Brandon Saad.
The Sharks’ struggles continued through the first half of the period, until they got some respite from a power play. Joe Pavelski took a stick to the face from Rene Bourque at 8:57. The power play was short-lived as Brent Burns was called for interference just a minute in. Half a minute later, Justin Braun was called for holding.
The Sharks survived the brief four on three and the five on three that followed. Some seconds of five on four followed but the Sharks weathered it.
The Sharks got another chance on the power play at when Dalton Prout was called for cross-checking Mike Brown. The Sharks did not score but it was still an improvement over the previous attempt. By the end of the second, Columbus had the 2-1 lead on the scoreboard, and a 19-7 lead in shots for the period.
Late in the period, Tommy Wingels went to the dressing room. He had blocked a couple of shots earlier and seemed to be suffering the effects. He was back on the bench for the third period.
The Blue Jackets put the puck in the net at 2:23 of the third. DeBoer challenged the goal, as Scott Hartnett was standing in the blue paint for some time before the goal, impairing Stalock’s ability to move freely. Donskoi was blocking Hartnell’s exit, if he wanted to make one. The challenge came up empty, giving the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead. The goal was Cam Atkinson’s, with assists to Nick Foligno and Hartnell.
The Sharks cut the lead to one goal, with a Justin Braun shot from the blue line, deflected in by Joe Pavelski at 6:13. The assists went to Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The Sharks then tied it up with a power play goal. Joel Ward was at the point and gave every indication he was looking for a shot. Brent Burns was lurking in the circle on the other side of the ice. Ward sent a quick pass through the penalty killers to Burns, who knocked it in before Bobrovsky could get across.
1:50 later, San Jose’s Chris Tierney won an offensive zone draw and Brenden Dillon caught the puck on its way to the blue line. He took a shot that Bobrovsky probably could not see, as Tierney was screening him as he made his way to the net.
The Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky with less than two minutes left. Seconds later, Pavelski stole the puck from Boone Jenner in the offensive zone and scored into the empty net.
Scott Hartnell picked up a misconduct in the final minutes, putting the Sharks on a power play for the final 1:16 of the game.
The final shot count was 31-29 Columbus, the final score 5-3 Sharks.
The Sharks next play on Wednesday at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.