The Sharks look to defeat the Blue Jackets for the second time in as many days when the teams conclude their two-game series in Stockholm on Saturday.
Logan Couture(notes) scored a power-play goal midway through the third period to give San Jose a 3-2 win in Friday’s opener. New captain Joe Thornton(notes) added a goal while Ryane Clowe(notes) and Joe Pavelski(notes) each had two assists to help the Sharks beat Columbus for the first fourth time in five games.
“For the guys to bear down and get the two points was very important,” said Thornton, who is coming off his 10th straight 20-goal season.
A likely Stanley Cup contender after being swept by Chicago in the Western Conference finals last season, San Jose is facing the right club to get its season off to a good start. The Sharks are 9-1-2 against the Blue Jackets since the start of the 2008-09 season. However, three of the last four have been decided by one goal.
Thornton has nine goals and 25 assists in 24 games versus Columbus. Clowe has four goals and six assists in 14 contests against the Blue Jackets.
Though last season’s Stanley Cup winning goaltender Antti Niemi(notes) made 30 saves in his San Jose debut, fellow Finn Antero Niittymaki(notes) could make his first start for the Sharks in this contest.
“It’s not an indication for the season,” coach Todd McLellan told the Sharks’ official website of his decision to start Niemi on Friday.
Niittymaki is 1-2 with a 2.70 goals-against average against Columbus, which recorded 32 shots during Scott Arniel’s first game as coach.
“We did lots of good things,” said Arniel, who spent the last four seasons coaching Manitoba of the AHL. “Five on five I really liked the way we played.”
Umberger, who had a career-high 55 points last season, has a goal and two assists in his last four versus San Jose.
“Mathieu is a great veteran,” Arniel told the Blue Jackets’ official website. “He’s a great guy to be along there with Mase.”
Mason has lost two in a row to the Sharks while Garon is 2-6-1 with a 3.61 GAA against San Jose.
The teams have a combined five Swedish players on their rosters. This is the third straight season that NHL teams have played in the Swedish capital.