Even when they are not playing particularly well, the San Jose Sharks are finding ways to win on the road.
The Sharks can match a franchise record with their 10th straight road win Wednesday night when they take on a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has gained confidence since coach Ken Hitchcock was fired.
San Jose (39-11-9) is perfect halfway through a six-game trip that will take it into the Olympic break. The Sharks, who haven’t lost away from home since Dec. 12 at Phoenix, can tie the club-record 10-game run on the road from Feb. 21-March 18, 2008.
Ryane Clowe(notes) scored the winning goal in the third period Monday in a 3-2 victory at Toronto. The Sharks were outshot 26-16 through two periods before managing to emerge with their league-leading 20th road victory.
“Obviously we weren’t very good in the first period, we were in sand, clearly outworked,” coach Todd McLellan said. “I tried to spark the team somehow by shuffling lines, trying some different things. I’m not even sure that worked until the third period, but we found a way to win. It wasn’t our best effort by any means.”
Center Joe Thornton(notes) has four assists on this trip to push his NHL-leading total to 59. Thornton had four assists and Heatley had a hat trick in a 6-3 home win over Columbus (24-27-9) on Oct. 8.
The Sharks are 2-0 against the Blue Jackets this season and 7-0-2 in the last nine meetings. They may expect a difficult game Wednesday, though, since San Jose’s last three visits to Nationwide Arena have gone to overtime, with the Sharks winning 3-2 in a shootout Nov. 4.
These teams learned Tuesday they will play two games against each other in Stockholm to open next season.
Columbus has posted consecutive wins since Hitchcock was replaced last Wednesday by Claude Noel. Jake Voracek tied a career high with three assists in a 4-0 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.
Steve Mason(notes) has been sharp in both games under Noel, posting a 0.50 GAA in winning consecutive starts for the first time since Oct. 13-17. Mason, who won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie last season, made 28 saves Saturday for his third shutout and 13th of his career.
The Blue Jackets have not won three straight since Nov. 13-19, and believe they can improve under Noel.
“We played two great games here,” said defenseman Anton Stralman(notes), who had a goal and an assist Saturday. “We hope to keep continuing. What Claude has brought, he’s spoken with us to try and relax and play the game we all know we can play.”
New Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin(notes) made his debut with the club in Toronto with over 17 minutes of ice time. Wallin was acquired along with a fifth-round pick Sunday from Carolina in exchange for a second-round selection.