Vesi Toskala ran his winning streak to 12 games with his fifth career shutout in the San Jose Sharks’ 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night. “A shutout is nice, but the most important thing is to get those two points,” Toskala said.
Steve Bernier, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marcel Goc each had goals for the Sharks.
Toskala is 5-0-0 this season while allowing just under two goals a game with a .926 save percentage. The 12-game winning streak is the longest in Sharks history. He has also won his last eight starts on the road.
“I feel comfortable on the ice,” Toskala said. “It always feels good after you get a couple of good saves. I saw the puck well. Our defencemen blocked so many shots, and that really helps a goalie a lot.”
Toskala had plenty of help, but was solid when Columbus did get off a shot.
“We played good team defence all the way around,” defenceman Scott Hannan said. “When we needed him, Ves was there to stop it.”
Columbus has lost four consecutive games while being outscored 17-5.
“San Jose is a good hockey team, but there is no reason for that to happen to us,” Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said. “They made us look bad out there. They embarrassed us.”
The Sharks were 2-for-8 on the power play while Columbus failed to score on seven chances with a man-advantage.
“It (defence) was really good, in particular our penalty-killing,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “We limited their opportunities and we might actually have had more opportunities killing penalties than they did on their power play.”
Toskala, who stopped 23 shots, had all the support he needed just 2 1/2 minutes in.
On the power play after Jason Chimera was called for holding, the Sharks surrounded Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Bernier controlled the puck while skating behind the net and centred it to Milan Michalek, whose shot was stopped. Matt Carle picked up the rebound and Leclaire left the net to cut down his angle. With Leclaire unable to get back, Bernier was on the doorstep when he got the puck with an unguarded net in front of him.
San Jose defenceman Josh Gorges was tripped while swooping in on the Columbus goal by defenceman Ron Hainsey early in the second period. Gorges slid hard into the corner boards on his left shoulder and needed assistance getting off the ice, although he later returned.
Not long after that, the Sharks put the game out of reach with two quick goals.
First Cheechoo notched his fifth goal, putting a power-play shot just inside the back post at the 3:15 mark after setup passes from Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
“One of the keys early on was getting the puck deep and putting pressure on their defence, allowing us to get some chances,” Cheechoo said. “When the puck’s in deep, it’s hard for them. Our defence did a great job of standing up to them and protecting the front of the net.”
Less than two minutes later Goc, who had twice come close to scoring, picked up his first of the season when he chopped in the rebound after Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot from the right point. Vlasic, a promising 19-year-old defenceman, learned earlier in the day that general manager Doug Wilson was keeping him with the big club rather than sending him back to his junior team in Quebec.
The Blue Jackets were booed several times while mustering just four shots in the second period.
“We have to loosen up a bit and grind these games out and try not to do too much,” captain Adam Foote said. “We need to stick together and we’ll come out of it together.”
Notes: It was the first game of a five-game road trip for the Sharks, their longest of the season. … C Sergei Fedorov returned after missing the first six Columbus games with a shoulder injury suffered in a preseason game Sept. 19. … The Blue Jackets came in tied for eighth in the NHL on the power play (21.7 per cent).