SAN JOSE There were a couple distinct factors at play when the Sharks and Blue Jackets game devolved into fight night at HP Pavilion on Tuesday.
First, the obvious one. San Jose was ahead by a comfortable 6-0 score late in the third, and the game was already a chippy affair at that point. Jared Bolls high hit on Joe Thornton just 20 seconds into the game set the tone for a match that featured 92 combined penalty minutes. Jim Vandermeer and Boll fought early in the first period and again in the third.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards thinks something else added to the later nastiness, though.
As Derek Dorsett is coming down the ice, you can see a water bottle squirted on him from San Jose's bench. I don't know if that's what set him off, but as he's carrying the puck up the ice, that happens. Things erupt a little bit then and you get some emotion.
Dorsett set off a round of bouts with about three minutes to go in the third period, when he cross-checked Colin White near the Sharks blue line. Those two squared off, as did Justin Braun and Fedor Tyutin.
Thats the kind of emotion that we have to get early on in the game, too. We need that, and it can't just be one or two guys, Richards said. Boll did a great job tonight stepping up for his teammates in a tough situation. It's not an easy job. We've got to get more guys caring like those two guys.
Boll said: I think it was just frustration. Any time you're down like that, the guys are playing hard, and it's just frustration.
The Blue Jackets are buried in last place in the NHL with just 32 points in 50 games (13-31-6), and it showed in Tuesdays loss to the Sharks. They turned the puck over, goaltender Steve Mason was unable to stop much of anything and gave away rebound after rebound, and the Sharks seemed to have their way the entire night.
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A couple of the goals, three of them in particular, were self-inflicted goals. We had the puck, we had clear possession of it, and a turnover ends up in the back of our net, Richards said.
The blowout win could have be indirect positive for the Sharks, too. Columbus plays again tonight against Los Angeles, maybe only team can threaten San Jose for the Pacific Division crown.
Columbus is likely to be a surly bunch against the Kings.
That's a good thing about this sport, is we've got another one tomorrow, Boll said. We've got to come out with a better effort. We definitely have to be ready to play, and we've got another good team with L.A.