Columbus looking to build under Richards

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Columbus looking to build under Richards

COLUMBUS Its been a miserable season for the Columbus Blue Jackets any way you look at it. They are, however, coming off of one of their better efforts of the season in Friday nights 4-3 home win against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Theyll play a second consecutive game tonight at Nationwide Arena against the Sharks.

Were really hoping to build off of last night and bring it into tonight, Rick Nash said on Saturday morning. Two home games in a row is exciting, and hopefully we can get two wins in a row out of it.

Right now weve got a little small snowball in our hand. Were putting it in the ground, and hopefully we can roll it and turn it into the base of a snowman, head coach Todd Richards said. Thats where youve got to start. Get the foundation going, and then add to the top of it.

The game marked the first win for Richards, who replaced Scott Arniel as head coach of the Blue Jackets on Monday and lost his debut in Chicago on Tuesday, 5-2. Richards, the former head coach of the Minnesota Wild, was an assistant under Todd McLellan in San Jose for one season.

Its the second meeting between the Sharks and Blue Jackets, as San Jose won 2-1 at HP Pavilion on Jan. 5 behind goals from Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe. Thomas Greiss, who will start again tonight, got the win with 23 saves in net.

My feeling on that game was San Jose was better than us, Richards said. We did probably get the result that we should have gotten. I did think we battled and competed, but they were better in certain areas than we were.

The Sharks outshot the Blue Jackets, 39-24.

When youre coming out of your own end and you just throw it out, obviously the other team is going to have the puck the whole night, Nash said. It seemed like we were doing a bit of that last game against San Jose.

One player to watch for Columbus is forward Derek Brassard, who is playing on the injury-plagued Blue Jackets top line. Forward Jeff Carter is on injured reserve with a separated shoulder, while forward R.J. Umberger and defenseman James Wisniewski are also unavailable.

Brassard had the game-winning goal and an assist, and had a key blocked shot at the end of the game to preserve the rare win for Columbus (12-26-5).

Hes playing hungry for the puck, he wants the puck, hes moving his feet a lot, Nash said. Hes making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen. He can be a top player in this league, hes just got to believe in himself and keep working at it.

Since Ive been here, 43 games, this is the best game Ive seen him play, said Richards, who started the season as an assistant before taking over the main duties. I think where he excelled was his play without the puck. He put himself in positions to get the puck, and once he got the puck, then he made plays.

One more note regarding the Blue Jackets: they reportedly picked up forward Colton Gillies off of waivers from Minnesota this morning. Hes not expected to play tonight.

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ performance over the Hurricanes on Saturday night at SAP Center won’t be one that the team re-watches and reflects back upon as a model for how they want to perform.

Still, after deserving better in last Wednesday’s loss to Ottawa, and maybe even Friday’s defeat to the rival Ducks, there was a sense that the 4-3 win was essentially an evening out of their recent luck. San Jose had just 20 shots on goal, tying their season low, but four of them beat Cam Ward. That includes the second period when their shooting percentage was a lofty 50 percent (four shots, two goals).

“It’s good to see the puck go in for a few guys,” Joe Pavelski said. “The bounces – that’s why you just have to keep playing. I would have thought we would have won the other two games before this one.”

Pete DeBoer said: “I think when you look at the week, out of the three games we played, it was probably our poorest of the three. But we found a way to win, and the other two we lost, maybe we deserved better. That's hockey.”

After falling behind 2-0 in each of their last two games, the Sharks jumped on the Hurricanes just 12 seconds in when Patrick Marleau scored on a two-on-one with Joe Thornton.

Aaron Dell was surely chuffed after that one. In a previous start against Carolina on Nov. 15, the first-year backup stood on his head but got no support in a 1-0 loss.

“It’s a good feeling to get one right away,” Dell said.

The difference in the game was the Sharks’ pair of second period goals, after they had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 wiped away. Logan Couture’s redirection of a Brent Burns shot put San Jose ahead to stay, 3-2, while Kevin Labanc’s second goal in as many nights on the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo blast was the necessary insurance, and the game-winner.

Labanc now has three goals in his last five games, generating the type of offense that was expected from others on the team, but just hasn’t come.

“It’s a confidence booster, that’s for sure,” Labanc said of scoring in consecutive games. “It’s just momentum, and you ride with it. You just keep going, and whatever opportunities come by you, you’ve just got to make sure it goes in the net.”

DeBoer said: "For a team that's had trouble scoring, he's one guy that's consistently scored for us. The puck follows him around. … He's done a great job, and he's a hard guy to remove from the lineup just because of how he's playing and how he's contributing.”

At the end of a three-game California road trip, Carolina pushed hard to start the third down 4-2. Derek Ryan’s power play goal brought the ‘Canes back to within one, and the way the ice was tilted over those first four minutes, it looked like the Sharks might be in trouble.

Instead, they buckled down in the defensive zone despite missing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is “day-to-day” with a lower body injury after leaving in the second period, according to DeBoer.

"They have a lot of talented guys on the team that can make plays,” said Paul Martin, who got the most fortuitous bounce of the night when his first period slap shot went in off of defenseman Brett Pesce's skate. “For us, it was just trying to find a way to win at that point, take care of our own zone, and Deller made some big key saves when we needed them."

Dell’s biggest stop came with about 20 seconds left, when he challenged Jeff Skinner on a rebound try – one of 11 shots for the Hurricanes forward – and saw the backhander hit him in the chest. He’s now 3-1 in his nascent NHL career.

“The last minute six-on-five is always a really, really long minute,” Dell said. “I think we played it pretty well.”

Carolina had plenty of zone time over the final two minutes with Ward pulled for an extra attacker. But this time, it was the Sharks’ opponent that never got that necessary bounce.

Instant Replay: Sharks make most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

Instant Replay: Sharks make most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – After a disappointing defeat less than 24 hours earlier, and with a four-game road trip on the horizon, the Sharks could have overlooked Carolina on Saturday night at SAP Center.

Although it wasn’t their cleanest game, and they managed just 20 shots on goal, the Sharks got past the Hurricanes, 4-3. San Jose’s modest two-game losing streak came to an end.

Twice the Sharks took a one-goal lead, and twice the Hurricanes responded. At 11:02 of the second period, Joakim Nordstrom’s shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway knotted the score at 2-2.

The Sharks tallied a pair of scores to take a 4-2 lead into the dressing room at the second intermission, though. Logan Couture redirected a Brent Burns wrist shot at 12:18, and less than two minutes later Kevin Labanc smacked in the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo shot off of Cam Ward’s pad at 14:10.

Carolina got back to within 4-3 in the third period, taking advantage of an ill-advised cross-checking minor on Brenden Dillon. Derek Ryan was left alone in front of the net, and slipped a shot through Aaron Dell’s five-hole at 3:42.

Carolina pulled Ward for the extra attacker with about two minutes to go, and Dell made a key save on a Jeff Skinner rebound with 20 seconds left to preserve the win.

San Jose beat Carolina for just the fifth time in the past 15 meetings (5-8-2). The Hurricanes won the only other matchup on Nov. 15, 1-0.

There was a flurry of goals early.

The Sharks opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the game, when Patrick Marleau finished off a two-on-one rush with Joe Thornton. Carolina responded shortly after that on Lee Stempniak’s power play goal at 1:59, but the Sharks reclaimed the lead when Paul Martin’s point shot nicked Brett Pesce’s skate and fluttered through Ward at 3:14.

The Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the second period. The defenseman left for a stretch in the middle frame, returned for a shift, but did not play at all after that.

Carolina went 1-1-1 on its three-game road trip through California.

The Sharks completed a stretch of eight home games out of 10, and begin a four-game road trip in Toronto on Tuesday.

Special teams

The Sharks went 0-for-1 on the power play, going up against the league’s best penalty kill.

Carolina finished 2-for-2. San Jose is just 23-for-32 on the PK in its last 12 games (71.8 percent).

In goal

Dell was making his fourth start of the season, getting both Carolina games while the other two were against the Islanders. He improved to 3-1 on the season with 30 saves.

Ward took the loss, allowing four goals on 20 shots goals. It was just his second loss to the Sharks in his career in eight decisions (6-2-0).

Lineup

David Schlemko missed his third straight game with a right ankle injury. Matt Nieto, a scratch for the previous five games, replaced Micheal Haley on the fourth line.

Burns’ three-game goal-scoring streak was halted.

Up next

The Sharks will visit Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Chicago on their upcoming roadie, playing four games in six nights, before returning home to host Calgary on Dec. 20.