Pavelski Scores a Pair But Sharks Stumble Against Blue Jackets

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks saw Tuesday night’s contest at SAP Center against the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets as an opportunity to take advantage of a team in turmoil. Instead, the Sharks (6-6-0) now find themselves looking answers after losing 5-2 in a match-up against a team with only a pair of wins on the season.

Joe Pavelski scored both goals for the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones struggled through a 17 save, 4 goal performance against a Columbus team that recently fired their coach and was struggling under new coach John Tortorella.

“It was not good enough,” said Jones. “We played a backwards game, let up an early goal and let in a few soft ones in the 2nd. We need to be better. Everyone needs to be better. We got outworked tonight.”

The Sharks dug an early hole after committing two penalties in the opening five minutes. They managed to kill off a Chris Tierney stick infraction a minute and a half into the game, but weren’t as lucky after defenseman Brenden Dillon skated to the box 4:23 into the game.

With the man advantage, Brandon Dubinsky skated to the left faceoff dot and took a shot on Sharks goalie Martin Jones. Jones stopped the initial attempt, but Brandon Saad was waiting in the goal crease to tuck the loose puck home for a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left on Dillon’s infraction.

“We got the first kill,” said Pavelski. “We almost got through the second one which would have given us a boost. We were on our heels early. It has to change, we have to break this mold where we’re getting scored on first.”

The Sharks Captain matched the team-best of 7 goals on the season in the waning seconds of the first period. Pavelski crept into Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease, redirecting a point shot from Justin Braun past the Russian netminder with 1:04 left in the period.

The Blue Jackets regained their lead nearly halfway through regulation after Scott Hartnell beat Jones for his 5th goal of the season at the 8:54 mark. Hartnell started the play behind the Sharks net, skated out towards the faceoff dot to Jones’ right then spun around and ripped a shot rapid-fire that beat Jones over the near post shoulder.

Pavelski again drew the Sharks three minutes later, receiving a backhand feed from Joonas Donskoi before deking out Bobrovsky to move past Joel Ward for the team lead in goals.

Pavelski’s goal was the result of a heads-up forecheck from Donskoi along the offense boards. Donskoi snuck behind Nick Foligno preparing to move the puck out of the Columbus defensive end and sent it back towards the goal line for Pavelski’s tally. The assist on the play was Donskoi’s 2nd career NHL point and first since returning from injury October 28th.

“It’s hard to come back after an injury,” said Donskoi. “I think it’s getting better but I’m not happy. We still lost. It’s disappointing.”

The tie was short lived due to miscommunication by Jones and defenseman Brent Burns. Jones went to play a dump-in behind his net and settle the puck for Burns. Burns, however, didn’t react in time to stop an advancing Blue Jacket from springing the puck loose. Columbus forward Boone Jenner snuck in to net his 7th goal with 1:28 left in the 2nd.

If the Jenner goal didn’t deflate the Sharks heading into the 2nd intermission, defenseman Ryan Murray’s strike with 59 seconds left in the period certainly did. Murray slid a point shot through a crowd in front of the net to put Columbus up 4-2 and chase Jones from the contest.

“I think it went off one of our guys’ gloves,” said Jones. “It was a bit of a deflection, a bit of a screen.”

Over his 40 minutes of ice time Jones allowed 4 goals while making 17 saves. His replacement, Alex Stalock, faced only 2 shots over the final period, but Matt Calvert scored an empty netter for the final 5-2 marker.

At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky stood on his head for most of the contest to earn his third win of the season. The former Vezina trophy winner turned aside 41 of 43 shots he faced, keeping the Sharks power play off the board after four opportunities.

“For our power play we demand a lot out of ourselves,” said Pavelski. “We expect a lot. It’s just unacceptable. It was a big momentum swing for us. We’ve created some momentum off it when we’ve had chances. It doesn’t do anything for the wins.”

“Everybody goes through tough stretches,” said Jones. “We know we have a good group in here. We know we’ll respond. We’ve got the group in here to do it. The main thing is to show up tomorrow, have a good practice and move on.”

The Sharks will have to move on quickly with the Florida panthers coming to town Thursday night followed by a visit from another reeling team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Southern California rivals come to town Saturday night with a lowly 2 wins and six points, tied for the lowest mark in the NHL.

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