Instant Replay: Sharks go into break on winning streak

Instant Replay: Sharks go into break on winning streak
February 7, 2014, 10:00 pm
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The Sharks celebrate after John McCarthy's first period goal against the Blue Jackets on Friday night. (AP)

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Goals from John McCarthy, Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels sent the Sharks into the Olympic break on a positive note, helping them to a 3-2 win over Columbus on Friday night at SAP Center.

San Jose enters the break with a 37-16-6 mark, good for second place in the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference. The schedule resumes for the stretch run on Feb. 27 in Philadelphia, the first of 22 games remaining in the regular season.

Wingels’ second goal in as many nights was the game-winner, and gave the Sharks a 3-1 third period lead. The winger drove the net and banged in a loose puck that Jason Demers flipped towards the crease from a sharp angle at 5:11.

Columbus got back to within a goal when Demers’ turnover led to a score by Boone Jenner at 10:45. That would be all the scoring on the night, though.

The Sharks ended a four-game losing streak to Columbus, which shifted to the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division in the offseason. San Jose has won three of its last four, while Columbus entered the break with an 11-4-1 mark in its last 15.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead before the midway point of the first period.

McCarthy ended a more than three-year scoring drought in the NHL, getting his first of the season after the Sharks waived and reassigned him last week. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, McCarthy tipped James Sheppard’s attempt through Sergei Bobrovsky at 3:23. It was his first goal since Nov. 6, 2010, a span of 74 games.

Marleau made it 2-0, deflecting Scott Hannan’s point shot at 8:13. Brent Burns was robbed by Bobrovsky moments earlier, but the puck squirted out to Hannan at the top of the circle.

Columbus got to within a goal in the first minute of the second period. Joe Thornton turned the puck over to Ryan Johansen in the high slot, and the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer released a shot that seemed to surprise Antti Niemi just 18 seconds into the middle frame.

The Sharks outshot Columbus, which was playing in the second of a back-to-back, 47-21 for the game.

San Jose’s scuffling power play had a chance to increase its 2-1 lead in the second period, but squandered four chances. Jack Johnson was issued a double-minor for holding the stick and slashing at 3:28, but Marty Havlat’s interference penalty nullified the final minute of that advantage. Minor penalties to James Wisniewski and David Savard also didn’t lead to any more offense from the Sharks.

Bobrovsky made key saves on McCarthy with eight minutes to go in the second period and Wingels’ rebound try about a minute later to keep it close.

Niemi stopped two breakaways, including Johansen’s in the first minute of the game and Matt Calvert’s shorthanded try after a misplay by Joe Pavelski in the offensive zone midway through the second.

Brad Stuart threw the biggest hit of the game in the third period, perfectly lining up Corey Tropp with a thundering check along the wall in the defensive zone.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan became the franchise’s leader in most games coached with 435, surpassing current Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

Special teams
The Sharks’ power play remains in a dreadful slump, and is just 1-for-29 in its last nine games. It finished Friday night 0-for-5.

San Jose was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, though. Adam Burish, a key penalty-killer last season, saw his first work on that unit in his second game in the lineup after back surgery.

In goal
Niemi improved to 5-3-0 in his career against Columbus with 19 saves.

Bobrovsky, who took a 2-1 overtime loss in Los Angeles on Thursday, lost for just the third time in 16 starts (12-3-1). He allowed three goals on 47 shots.

Lineup
Matt Nieto missed the game with an apparent left foot injury after blocking a shot late in the second period of Wednesday’s game with Dallas. McCarthy was recalled on Thursday, just five days after he was demoted to Worcester.

Demers (groin) returned from a three-game absence.

Hannan left the ice for a short duration after taking a high stick from Sheppard, resulting in a cut above his left eye.

Up next
After the game in Philadelphia at the end of the month, the Sharks continue a three-game road trip in Buffalo on Feb. 28 and New Jersey on March 2. The next home game is on March 4 vs. Carolina.