Blue Jackets look to extend points streak vs. Sharks

NHL
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The undermanned Columbus Blue Jackets will try to keep doing what they have been doing so successfully over the last month — earn points game after game.

Next up in their attempt to keep the point streak going is a home date with the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Division club has produced a remarkable 12-game stretch of points that dates back to a Dec. 9 road win in Washington. Especially noteworthy is that the run has come with 10 regular players missing at least time, including No. 1 goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.

Columbus started the point streak after the 5-2 win over the Capitals, owning an 8-0-4 mark against the league, with half of the points coming against foes from within the division.

The points in 12 consecutive games is the NHL’s longest current streak, and Columbus will attempt to extend that in the Sharks’ only visit to Ohio’s capital.

The Blue Jackets claimed a hard-earned two points on Thursday night with a 2-1 win in Boston, gaining the victory on a strong individual effort by Seth Jones in overtime.

The defenseman secured the puck in his own zone, sliced his way through a pair of Bruins defenders and fed a pass that ended with Pierre-Luc Dubois one-timing the game-winning goal just 52 seconds into the three-on-three session.

Columbus coach John Tortorella praised his team’s play, especially how it managed to limit Boston’s scoring chances for most of the contest.

“I just thought we played a good game right on through,” Tortorella said. “It’s not like we went in the back door. Held them to 12 scoring chances. At times, against their top line, there was a struggle or two.

“But right on throughout our lineup I just thought we played a good, solid, structured game.”

Goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who will handle the bulk of the netminding with Korpisalo hurt, had 25 saves to win his second straight start and recorded just his second NHL victory.

After playing the Sharks on Saturday, Columbus will embark on a four-game West Coast road swing, which will include a return engagement vs. San Jose on the road Jan. 9.

Like the Blue Jackets, the Sharks collected an overtime road win Thursday night, beating the red-hot Penguins 3-2. Pittsburgh is 7-2-1 in its last 10.

The win was a much needed one for the Sharks, who entered the game with the NHL’s worst winning percentage since the start of December.

Brent Burns’ overtime slap shot from the high slot accomplished something that had been hard to do recently — beat Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry, who was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Month for December.

Jarry topped all goalies in wins (eight), shutouts (three) and goals against average (1.54) in nine outings in the decade’s last month as the Penguins surged to third in the Metropolitan.

But Burns’ game-winner past Jarry on the power play, plus regulation markers by Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, helped the Sharks record their third consecutive win over Pittsburgh.

Joe Thornton, who tallied the primary assist on the winning goal, garnered his 1,080th career assist to move past Adam Oates for seventh in league history.

“It’s nice to see these guys get rewarded tonight and scoring a big goal like that on a power play, especially in overtime,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said.

–Field Level Media

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