The San Jose Sharks are looking to recapture a scoring touch that’s eluded them for the past few weeks before heading into the Olympic break.
The Columbus Blue Jackets would like to make sure their drought is over after just 24 hours.
With the long layoff looming, the Sharks and Blue Jackets will look to better offensively Friday night as San Jose tries to snap its four-game slide against Columbus.
San Jose (36-16-6) has seven goals while dropping four of six games following a six-game winning streak. The Sharks, however, got some unexpected contributions on their way to Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime win against Dallas.
Martin Havlat scored his fourth goal of the season before assisting on Tommy Wingels’ tally in overtime, marking just the second time he’s found the net in 24 games.
"It was time for some others to step up and score," said Todd McLellan, who will set a team record by coaching in his 435th game Friday. "To see Marty and Tommy both do it in one game is a good thing for our team."
Some production from U.S. Olympian Joe Pavelski could also help. The center’s 29 goals tie him with Anaheim’s Corey Perry for third in the NHL, but he’s only scored once in six games, registering just two shots over the last two contests.
Patrick Marleau, second on the team with 22 goals, is in a similar funk. Marleau, who is on Canada’s Olympic roster with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, is one game shy of matching his season-high seven-game goal drought from Oct. 26-Nov. 10.
He’s scored once during the Sharks’ four-game losing streak to Columbus (29-23-5), most recently coming up empty in a 4-3 home loss April 21.
Antti Niemi, one of three goaltenders for Finland, was between the pipes for that matchup, dropping to 0-2-0 with a 5.48 goals-against average over his last three games against the Blue Jackets.
Still, he’s likely to be back in net Friday after being rested in favor of backup Alex Stalock on Wednesday.
The Blue Jackets came into Thursday’s game in Los Angeles scoring a league-best 3.83 goals per game since Jan. 11, but went scoreless for more than 60 minutes against the Kings. Jack Johnson’s power-play goal 1:40 into the first period was Columbus’ only offense in a 2-1 overtime loss.
Ryan Johansen assisted on Johnson’s goal, giving him six points – four goals – in his last four games as he continues his breakout season. The center leads the Blue Jackets with 23 goals and 44 points, topping his totals of 14 and 34 over his first two seasons.
Johansen has scored in each of the last two games with San Jose, netting the game-winner with 1:37 left in regulation on April 21.
It’s unclear if Sergei Bobrovsky will get a fifth straight start after he made 18 saves against the Kings. He has a 1.74 GAA over the past four contests, and has won his last two – one shutout – versus the Sharks while stopping 62 of 65 shots.
Bobrovsky, though, hasn’t started on back-to-back days since spitting the first two games of the season Oct. 4-5.
That could mean Curtis McElhinney gets his first start against San Jose since making 36 saves in a 5-2 loss with Anaheim on Oct. 30, 2010.
Bobrovsky, Nikita Nikitin, Fedor Tyutin and Artem Anisimov are on Russia’s roster for the Winter Games.