Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sharks Continue Winning Streak After Hockey Night In Columbus

For their fourth game of a seven-game road trip, the San Jose Sharks traveled to Columbus, Ohio for their second game in two nights after a dramatic 2-0 win over the talented Washington Capitals team to face the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the Sharks currently have a solid place in the Western Conference playoff standings, the Blue Jackets had much to fight for, giving them more of an incentive to earn a two-point win against the Sharks.

Determined to maintain their fiery winning streak and perhaps add another shutout in their favor, the Sharks entered the first period playing fast-paced hockey, although the Blue Jackets proved to be a more dominant force. Unleashing over twice the number of shots on net as the Sharks and two power play goals by the end of the first period (in contrast to the Sharks remaining scoreless), it was evident the Sharks would have to surmount a surging comeback to get back into the game.

Rejuvenated and determined to come back after the disappointing first period, the Sharks opened up with a fiery offense, demonstrating a clear dominance, maintaining much better puck control, winning corner battles, and setting up teammates for scoring. Blue Jackets’ netminder Chris Mason stayed strong through all of the shots, including a back door setup to Dany Heatley. Still even strength, Sharks defenseman Kent Huskins nonchalantly let go a wrist shot at the net, and with careful screening by Heatley, the puck rolled into the back of the net, granting him his first goal of the year.

A beautiful clear by the Sharks in the middle of the second period gave Joe Thornton a breakaway, but the quick Mason quickly put him down. After the stoppage in play, a retaliation penalty on Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi by Blue Jackets forward Antoine Vermette gave the Sharks another power play. Although the Sharks managed to hold on to the puck for the entirety of the power play, Mason managed to stay strong in net, keeping all shots out. The Blue Jackets, up until that point, had kept the Sharks scoreless in three power plays, due to the play by Mason in net.

Mason, however, would not be entirely impenetrable, especially with the Sharks’ powerful onslaught of offense that emerged from the beginning of the second period. Sharks’ forward Kyle Wellwood, a new acquisition from January (along with Ben Eager), buried the puck late in the second to bring the score even at 2-2. Wellwood, a hard-working forward with a playing style similar to Sharks’ fan favorite Scott Nichol, had worked tremendously hard all period, giving his goal that much more of an accomplishment.

The score remained 2-2 through the end of the second period, with the Sharks leading in shots on net 26-25.

The third period emerged with solid play by both teams, with the Sharks at a slight edge on puck control, although the Blue Jackets had more shots on net. Adding on to the Sharks’ puck control, Sharks’ forward Devin Setoguchi had a couple great chances, although it was Patrick Marleau’s wonderfully executed shot from the left side of goaltender Chris Mason that gave the Sharks their 3-2 lead, which would end up being the game winning goal.

The Sharks have thus far won all four of their road games, extending their winning streak to five, and the team travels to Newark, New Jersey tonight to prepare for their Friday evening game against the New Jersey Devils.

Honorable mention to Antti Niemi, the well-deserved first star of the game, who definitely "stood on his head" for the full sixty minutes. In addition, would like to mention Niclas Wallin, who displayed some impressive offensive skills when driving the puck to the net, almost scoring.

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