Odds Favor Sharks
Columbus, Ohio - Few opponents this season have been able to slow down San Jose, which is off to the best 30-game start in NHL history.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, winners of four in a row at home, have to be hoping the Sharks will be looking past them Wednesday night.
With a showdown at Detroit looming Thursday, the Sharks will try to maintain their focus when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sports Interaction have made the Sharks –190 money line favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jackets. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 56% of more than 205 bets for this game have been placed on the Sharks -190.
San Jose (25-3-2) improved to 12-0-2 in its last 14 games Monday night when it erased an early two-goal deficit to earn a 3-2 shootout victory at Los Angeles.
The win gave the Sharks 52 points through 30 games - most in league history. The previous record was 50, held by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins, although the comparison is not perfect since the Sharks have three shootout wins and two points from overtime losses.
"I've never been a part of something like this," captain Patrick Marleau said. "... We're a fun group - but at the same time, we demand a lot from each other. And I think that's why we've had the start that we've had."
In order to continue their run, the Sharks may need to pay extra attention to Wednesday's game, which takes place 24 hours before they visit the Red Wings in a matchup of Western Conference powers.
First-year coach Todd McLellan's club has opened up an eight-point lead on Detroit atop the West.
"It's a nice cushion for us, but we want to keep playing well and get points every night," Marleau said. "We've won games all different ways - blowouts, come-from-behind, shootouts - we're won some crazy games and some good character-building games."
Monday's win certainly qualifies as the latter, as the Kings led 2-0 less than halfway through the first period.
The Sharks quickly answered with Ryane Clowe's power-play goal to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes, and Marleau's 16th goal - a short-handed tally - tied it in the second period. Clowe scored the winner in the shootout as San Jose held off a spirited Los Angeles club that had won three straight at home.
Now the Sharks will take on another team that's been playing well on home ice of late. Columbus (13-14-3) is coming off a 3-1 loss at Chicago on Sunday, but the Blue Jackets have won their last four at Nationwide Arena, allowing a total of four goals in those games.
Rookie Steve Mason has been in net for all of them, solidifying his hold on the starting job due to Pascal Leclaire's struggles. Mason ranks third in the league with a 1.98 goals-against average.
The problem against the Blackhawks was offense, as the Blue Jackets outshot Chicago 32-31 but were held scoreless for the final 58 minutes.
"I think it's frustrating for everyone to live on this 'we played so well' and still only scored one goal," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Right now we're living on a fine line and there's not much breathing room."
The Blue Jackets have scored three goals or fewer in each of their last 13 games, going 4-for-55 (7.3 percent) on the power play over that span. On the season, they've scored an NHL-worst 10.1 percent of the time with the man advantage.
Columbus needs more production from its top scorers, especially Rick Nash. The forward leads the team with 13 goals and 25 points, but hasn't scored in his last five games, totaling one assist over that span.
His last goal came in a 3-2 loss at San Jose on Dec. 4 - the Blue Jackets' fifth straight against the Sharks.
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Posted: 12/16/08 11:46 PM ET