Blue Jackets begin west-coast swing in San Jose

BY foxsports • October 23, 2014

Home games have been a rarity for the San Jose Sharks, and it will remain that way until the middle of November.

They'll try to take advantage of a second opportunity on home ice Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who certainly can't claim any sustained level of success in San Jose.

The Sharks (4-2-1) open the season playing 16 of 21 on the road, and after beginning the demanding stretch with plenty of success, it started to catch up to them in the final two games of a recent five-game trip.

After earning at least a point in their first five games, the Sharks fell 4-0 against the New York Rangers on Sunday before closing the trip with Tuesday's 5-3 loss in Boston.

San Jose led 3-2 after two periods, and the third-period collapse wasted a two-goal effort from Logan Couture, who has five points in three games.

"The beginning of the season, with not a lot of practice time, it's not an easy trip," coach Todd McLellan told the team's official website. "We played in some tough buildings. I'm going to sound like we're satisfied by saying that; we're not. We're disappointed in some of the areas of our game. ... But we have some experience on the road now. We got some of our younger players into games. Would we like to come home 3-1-1? Yeah. We didn't, and now we got to make some hay at home for a couple games."

The Sharks, who beat Winnipeg 3-0 in their only home game Oct. 11, follow this contest with a visit from Buffalo on Saturday before heading back out on the road.

The Blue Jackets (3-2-0) are 4-18-2 in San Jose, including a 3-2 loss in their only visit a season ago. The Sharks also won last season's other meeting on the road.

Columbus is out to avoid dropping the first two of a four-game trip after losing 3-2 in Ottawa on Saturday.

Nick Foligno and David Savard brought the Blue Jackets back from a 2-0 hole in the second period before Ottawa took the lead for good midway through the third.

"You've got to tip your hat to a hot goaltender," said Foligno, whose team put 40 shots on goal. "We need to take out that we played a real solid game and battled back and never quit."

Foligno (two goals, five assists) and Ryan Johansen (three goals, four assists) both have at least a point in each of their five games.

Columbus was without forwards Marko Dano (undisclosed), Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), Sonny Milano (face), Nathan Horton (back) and Boone Jenner (hand), as well as defenseman Ryan Murray (knee).

Columbus figures to deploy goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky while backup Curtis McElhinney is on injured reserve. Bobrovsky replaced McElhinney against Ottawa and allowed a goal on 18 shots. He's got a 2.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in five games.

Bobrovsky could be in for a busy night considering his two previous starts in San Jose resulted in a combined 82 shots faced, though he got out of it with a split record, 3.05 GAA and .927 save percentage.

McLellan has split his minutes more between Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock, and each allowed four goals their last time out. Stalock faced the Rangers and fell to 1-1-1 with a 2.27 GAA and .933 save percentage. Niemi lost in Boston after winning his first three games and has a 2.70 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Stalock recorded the shutout against the Jets and is 5-1-1 with a 1.13 GAA and .961 save percentage in nine home game since the start of last season.


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