SAP Center — Calling the Sharks’ 5-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night a “heartbreaker” is probably an understatement.
It was another night of blowing leads and not playing a full 60 minutes, and nobody knew that more than the Sharks themselves.
“It sucks losing, no one in here’s happy,” Joe Pavelski said bluntly. The forward scored two goals in Thursday’s game, but the team’s inability to stave off the visiting Blue Jackets from scoring their fifth goal with 20.7 second left in regulation crushed San Jose’s hopes. “We’re getting the same results. We’re not good enough, and it’s got to be better.”
San Jose entered the second stanza with a 2-0 lead, and skated out of it trailing 3-2. Even with the neck-and-neck play in the third frame, the end result showed that the Sharks still aren’t defensively sound enough to play a full 60 minutes. “You give up five (goals) you’re not winning, and our defensive play is killing us,” head coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s not just one player, or one line. It’s all the lines right now. It’s the D, it’s the goaltending. The overall defensive game obviously has to improve or we’re in trouble.”
Adam Burish skated up the side of the ice before sniping the puck clear over Sergei Bobrovsky’s left shoulder to put San Jose ahead 1-0. If you noticed the look of complete and utter surprise on his face, it was probably because it was only the second goal he has scored since being a Shark.
With the Sharks’ top power play unit on the ice and Pavelski posted in front of the crease, Logan Couture’s slap shot from up high deflected off Pavelski’s stick and went five-hole, increasing the Sharks lead to 2-0 before the first frame expired.
Ryan Johansen put Columbus on the board in the second stanza, eluding Justin Braun’s defense and backhanding the shot up over Antti Niemi’s head.
San Jose got the opportunity on the power play with Jack Skille in the box after a dirty hit on James Sheppard behind Columbus’ net. But the Blue Jackets notched a shorthanded goal to knot things up 2-2. Just a little over a minute later, a turnover by Tye McGinn ended up back on Johansen’s stick and he scored his second goal of the night to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
San Jose, impressively enough, didn’t dig themselves into an even bigger hole at the end of the second stanza while trying to kill off a double minor. Not long after Columbus took their first lead of the night, Brent Burns high-sticked Matt Calvert right in the teeth and spent four minutes in the sin bin while Calvert had the blood and tooth bits cleaned out of his mouth. Niemi and the Sharks defense made some very dicey saves in the blue paint to minimize the damage on the scoreboard before the second intermission.
Pavelski notched his second goal of the evening when he got the feed from Joe Thornton and wristed a shot from his knees past Bobrovsky to tie it, 3-3.
Couture got the puck after a turnover in the Blue Jackets’ defensive zone and rocketed it past Bobrovksy, putting the Sharks back in front 4-3. But a CBJ flurry in front of Niemi led to a redirect by Scott Hartnell getting tipped through chaos by Nick Foligno to tie the game up — yes, again — at 4-4.
Mark Letestu got the jump on Niemi with 20.7 seconds left, sucking the life out of the Tank crowd and solidifying San Jose’s third straight loss.
The upside? The anger in the dressing room after the game shows that the team is hungry to get to work and get better. They’ll need to correct some of their problems if they want to get a home win this weekend, as they host the Buffalo Sabres for a Saturday matinee. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 pm.