Jackets beat Sharks to boost playoff push
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Ryan Johansen scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:37 remaining to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a big boost in their push for the playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
Mark Letestu scored twice and Vinny Prospal also scored for the Blue Jackets, who moved into a tie for seventh place with Minnesota in the Western Conference with 51 points. Columbus has played one more game than the Wild and two more than the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings, who are three points back in the race for the final playoff spot. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves.
Marty Havlat, Andrew Desjardins and Joe Pavelski scored for the Sharks, who needed only to take the game to overtime to clinch a ninth-straight playoff berth. Antti Niemi made 18 saves in his 23rd straight start as the Sharks lost at home in regulation for just the second time all year.
The Blue Jackets looked like they would squander a big opportunity when they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. Pavelski tied the game with a power-play goal with 5:03 remaining.
But Pavelski was on the other side of the key play on the game-winning goal when he turned the puck over to R.J. Umberger in his own zone, setting up Johansen's go-ahead score.
While San Jose still has three more games to clinch the playoffs, this loss dealt a blow to the team's hopes to get home-ice advantage in the first round. The Sharks began the day tied for fourth in the West with Los Angeles, one point ahead of St. Louis. San Jose would lose the tiebreaker to both teams based on fewer regulation and overtime wins.
The Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead in the second period when Brad Stuart made a bad breakout pass that went right to Letestu in the neutral zone. Letestu quickly fed Prospal for a breakaway and he beat Niemi with a forehand for his 12th goal of the season.
The Sharks tried to get back into the game when Logan Couture fed Havlat in front of the net for a goal midway through the second but they allowed a rare power-play goal at home to fall back behind by two.
Desjardins and Pavelski helped tie the game but the Blue Jackets still ended up on top, improving to 13-0 when leading after two periods.
With Matt Irwin in the box for interference, Letestu beat Niemi with a blast from the left point for his 12th goal of the season and first multigoal game since March 8, 2012, against Los Angeles. Columbus had been 0-for-17 on the power play over the last eight games before scoring just the seventh against San Jose all season at the Shark Tank.
Letestu opened the scoring in the first period when he tipped in a centering pass from Jack Johnson.
NOTES: San Jose had been 16-1-5 at home, with the only regulation loss coming to Chicago on Feb. 5. ... Columbus C Artem Anisimov (concussion), F Matt Calvert (broken finger) and D Nikita Nikitin (lower body) sat out with injuries. ... San Jose D Jason Demers, who was hurt in the third period on Thursday, missed the game and was replaced by Scott Hannan.