Sharks-Blue Jackets: What to watch for

January 5, 2012, 8:34 pm
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Columbus (10-23-5) vs. Sharks (21-11-4) at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California.

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks host the Columbus Blue Jackets at home tonight, looking to extend their winning streak to three games. After sweeping a mini-road trip with wins in Vancouver on Monday and Anaheim last night, the Sharks have points in nine of their last 10 games overall and lead the Pacific Division with 46 points.

Greiss to start: Its been more than a month since Antti Niemi has vacated the Sharks crease, but Thomas Greiss will get the call in net against the Blue Jackets. Greiss hasnt played since Dec. 3 when San Jose lost at home to the Florida Panthers, 5-3.

In eight games this season, Greiss is 4-4-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Niemi will serve as the backup, while Antero Niittymaki continues to be the odd man out.

No time to rest: The Sharks will play their third game in four nights, while Columbus enters well rested. The Blue Jackets havent played since New Years Eve, when they surrendered a 2-0 third period lead in losing to the Washington Capitals, 4-2. Columbus actually arrived in San Jose on Tuesday, which isnt uncommon for East Coast teams visiting California as they adapt to the time difference.

Rick Nash leads Columbus with 27 points, tied with Vinny Prospal, while newcomer Jeff Carter has 10 goals and seven assists in 27 games.

San Jose concludes a stretch of four games in six nights when it hosts the Capitals on Saturday.
Third period woes: The Blue Jackets, last overall in the NHL, enter with the worst goal differential in the third period. Theyve been outscored by 26 goals combined in the final 20 minutes (52-26), and are just 8-6-2 when leading after two.

The Sharks havent exactly dominated the third period, either. Theyve scored just 25 times, and only the New York Islanders have fewer.

San Jose has allowed just 24 goals in the third, though, the second fewest behind Boston.

Wingels watch: The Sharks made a roster move in time for tonights game, recalling winger Tommy Wingels. Theres a chance Wingels could get into the lineup, as McLellan wasnt too pleased with some of his forwards after the win in Anaheim.

You have to contribute, especially when you play this many games, said the coach. We had some guys that didnt do a lot tonight, and maybe well look at making some changes.

McLellan used a third line of Andrew Desjardins, Jamie McGinn and Brad Winchester, which generated the tying goal against the Ducks when Winchester fired in a wrist shot on a pass from McGinn late in the second period. Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Murray, meanwhile, did not see much ice in the second half of the game.

Wingels is second on Worcester in scoring with 21 points (13g, 8a) in 29 games. In eight career NHL games, all with San Jose, Wingels has one assist and four penalty minutes.

Wingels began the season on the opening night roster, playing three of the first four games before being reassigned.

Odds and ends: Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski, signed in the off-season, is out with a broken ankle. San Jose is 17-1-2 all-time against Columbus at HP Pavilion. Sharks defensemen Jim Vandermeer and Colin White remain on injured reserve.