COLUMBUS, Ohio – San Jose couldn’t overcome its slow start on Tuesday night.
Jeff Carter had three goals—two on the power play during Columbus’ four-goal first period—and the last-place Blue Jackets handed the Sharks their season-high fourth straight loss, 6-3.
“They were much better prepared to compete than the white team,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “The disappointing thing for me is the lack of urgency that we entered the game with.”
The Sharks fell to 1-4-1 on their season-long, nine-game road trip.
R.J. Umberger and Rick Nash, who is the subject of trade rumours with the deadline less than a week away, had a goal and an assist.
Rookie David Savard also scored for Columbus. Vinny Prospal and Derick Brassard added three and two assists, respectively.
“I think that’s kind of what we envisioned the start of the season,” Umberger said. “It just didn’t work out that way. Confidence has a lot to do with a lot of stuff. Tonight we got it early in the game.”
Steve Mason was mostly sharp in making 38 saves to get the win and surpass Marc Denis as the Blue Jackets’ career wins leader.
Logan Couture scored twice and Joe Thornton also had a goal for San Jose. Starting goalie Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots.
“Right now we should be a desperate team,” McLellan said. “That’s very concerning.”
Carter scored his 15th goal and the third of the game for his second hat trick this season at 1:26 of the third to give Columbus a 6-2 lead.
Couture scored his team-leading 27th goal on a redirection on a power play to make it 6-3 at 8:35 of the third to give San Jose some life.
Then just 13 seconds later, the Sharks thought they pulled closer when Jamie McGinn batted in another high puck that went into the air behind Mason.
But the play went to video review and it was ruled the puck was hit when it was above the crossbar and the goal was disallowed.
“Even when the score was 6-3, San Jose is a good team, they kept pushing,” Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards said. “But our goalie made saves at key times for us.”
Columbus started strong, scoring twice in the first seven minutes. The Blue Jackets then made it 3-0, ending Niemi’s night and added one more with 30 seconds left in the period. Niemi was replaced by Thomas Greiss, who stopped 21 of 24 shots.
“Scoring early, I think it gave us some confidence,” Richards said. “Especially on the power play.”
Umberger found the net first, poking in his own rebound for his 10th of the season at 4:55.
Carter made it 2-0 at 6:51 on the power play with a shot from the high slot past Niemi after a nice give and go passing play with Prospal.
Then Nash curled out of the right corner, and scored on a wrister from between the circles for his 20th at 15:18, sending Niemi to the bench.
On the fourth goal, the puck skidded off two San Jose players to Carter, who with his back to the net, redirected it past Greiss at 19:30 on another man advantage.
“In the back of our mind we were kind of thinking about that game after the all-star break when they got us pretty good,” Carter said. “There was a little bit of a revenge factor there.”
The Sharks scored twice in a 26-second span early in the second period to cut the deficit in half.
Thornton scored his 13th of the season at 5:11 to make 4-1.
Couture then took a pass into the zone from Michal Handzus and ripped a shot from the left dot over Mason’s glove at 5:37.
But the momentum was short-lived because two minutes later, Ryan Clowe was assessed a double minor—one penalty for a cross check, the other for unsportsmanlike conduct when he slammed the penalty box door.
Savard sent a one-timer from the left point that hit another skate in traffic at 10:59 to make it 5-2 with Clowe in the box.
Carter scored his third of the game just 1:26 into the third on a pass from Nash, who also had an open look at the at the net.
“Our big players really stepped up tonight. … but I felt we got contributions from everyone,” Richards said.
NOTES: With the trade deadline less than a week away, scouts for the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Phoenix and Detroit watched from the press box. … Columbus’ four-goal, first-period outburst was one short of tying the franchise record, set March 15, 2003, in the first period of a 5-0 win over visiting Minnesota. … Columbus D Nikita Nikitin, playing his first game after missing 12 with a knee injury, picked up an assist on Savard’s goal. … Blue Jackets C Antoine Vermette played in his 600th career game and Carter played in his 500th. … The Sharks have allowed six goals—a season high—in two of their past four games.