The Sharks - tied for first place in the Pacific Division despite having the fewest home wins in the league - look to continue their dominance of the Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion when the teams continue their season series Saturday night.
San Jose (22-12-6) failed to win at home yet again Thursday night, losing 3-2 in overtime to Calgary.
No team in the league has fewer wins at home than the Sharks, who are 6-9-4 at HP Pavilion while posting the league’s best road record at 16-3-2. They have lost five straight at home, with two of those losses coming in overtime, since a 5-2 victory over Vancouver on Dec. 13.
“That stat has bothered a lot of people,” San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said. “But as long as you keep playing well and keep going. The home season will turn around.”
The Sharks were strong at home last season, going 25-12-4. That record includes two wins over the Blue Jackets (19-16-6), who have been terrible in San Jose.
San Jose is 11-0-1 at home versus Columbus since the Blue Jackets entered the NHL in 2000, outscoring them 50-18. This is the Blue Jackets’ first trip to San Jose this season.
San Jose has been successful thanks to a bunch of proven veterans, but rookie winger Torrey Mitchell’s development has complemented them well. Mitchell scored his eighth goal of the season Thursday, and has 15 points on the season.
“Getting opportunities on the power play, he’s using his speed and starting to create some more offense and continues to develop as a player,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said of Mitchell.
Mitchell will be trying to help spark a San Jose team that only managed a goal by Joe Thornton in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Oct. 27 in the teams’ first meeting of the season.
That game was in Columbus, where the Blue Jackets are 13-6-4. Columbus, though, has struggled on the road, going 6-10-2.
The Blue Jackets snapped a three-game road losing streak with a 4-3 win over Los Angeles on Thursday night, with Michael Peca returning to the lineup to score Columbus’ last two goals. Peca had missed five straight games with headaches and a sore neck, which were the result of a collision with Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis on Dec. 23.
“You feel like you’re letting your team down when you’re not in the lineup, so you want to come back and do whatever you can to contribute and help the team win,” said Peca, a two-time winner of the Frank Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.
Peca has four goals and 16 points in 26 games this season, but has been held off the scoresheet in his last four games against the Sharks.