San Jose defeats Columbus; draws even

The San Jose Sharks pulled even at 2-2 for the season Wednesday,
using the home opener to upend the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 in
front of 17,496 fans at HP Pavilion.
San Jose – The San Jose Sharks pulled even at 2-2 for the season Wednesday, using the home opener to upend the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 in front of 17,496 fans at HP Pavilion.

After allowing 15 goals through three games, the Sharks held Columbus scoreless for 51 minutes, enough time to fashion a 4-0 lead. Radoslav Suchy spoiled Evgeni Nabokov’s shut-out bid with a long wrist shot with 11:41 gone in the third period.

“I think (the fans) are going to enjoy the new NHL,” San Jose coach Ron Wilson said of the product on the ice benefiting from several rules changes.

“It’s a fun game to coach, especially with the weapons we have. In the third period, we took the foot off the accelerator for a while. I wasn’t really happy with the way we played the third period. We sort of sat back, then got into penalty trouble.” After firing 22 shots on the net in the second period, San Jose mustered just three for the last 20 minutes.

The Sharks came off the ice for the first intermission with a 2-0 cushion.

Marco Sturm opened the scoring at the 6:14 mark. Captain Patrick Marleau began a 2-on-2 rush by whipping the puck from behind the red line to a streaking Sturm. The winger’s hard slapshot from 30 feet out glanced off the left pad of goalie Marc Denis and across the goal line for the 1-0 advantage. Milan Michalek earned his team-leading fourth assist on the play.

Marleau had an opportunity a dozen seconds later to make it 2-0 when he slipped behind the defense for a point-blank shot at Denis. The backhander sailed high and out of danger for the Blue Jackets.

San Jose came right back with a Wayne Primeau goal at the 7:24 mark. Primeau shook free from a defender at the left boards in the offensive zone and skated into the low slot to backhand home a Denis soft rebound of a Jonathan Cheechoo shot. Mark Smith earned the other assist.

While San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov posted a second shut-out period, the Sharks mustered enough offense to go up 4-0 after 40 minutes.

San Jose scored twice within a span of 61 seconds of the second period. Denis had little help from the Columbus defenders on either San Jose scoring play.

At the 11:09 mark, Scott Thornton delivered his first goal of the campaign when he followed up point-blank shots by Scott Hannan, Alyn McCauley ans Nils Ekman to snap in the goal over a prone goaltender.

Primeau pounced on a loose puck and found the back of the net from 10 feet out after Denis repeled attempts from Cheechoo and Rob Davison at 12:10. Primeau enjoyed his second two-goal game of a 503-game NHL career.

NOTES: The Blue Jackets were without the services of Rick Nash. The talented winger is on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury…San Jose had two healthy scratches, Christian Ehrhoff and Josh Langfeld…The Sharks honored the 2003-4 team by raising a banner for the Pacific Division championship in pre-game ceremonies…The Sharks complete the two-game homestand Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, then begin a six-game roadtrip Monday night in Detroit.

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