COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—The San Jose Sharks’ spectacular start hit a slight snag.
“It was one of the best feelings of the year, so far,” Umberger said after a group hug at center ice. “That’s about as dramatic as it gets.”
Blue Jackets rookie Steve Mason stopped 47 shots—one shy of the franchise record—and helped Columbus win for the fifth straight time at home.
“Both goaltenders were good, and our guy was great,” said Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, who celebrated his 57th birthday. “To beat teams like that, we’re going to need our goaltender to be our best player—and he was.”
San Jose (25-3-3) came in with 52 points, surpassing the 1929-30 Boston Bruins for the best start through 30 games in NHL history.
The Sharks conceded that the Blue Jackets badly outplayed them on Dec. 4 in San Jose, even though they escaped with a 3-2 win.
Devin Setoguchi had the lone goal for the Sharks on Wednesday night, and Michael Peca tied it for Columbus. Both goals were scored in the third period. San Jose’s five-game, road-winning streak was snapped, but the Sharks earned at least one point for the 15th straight game.
“It’s obviously a tough way to (lose). Maybe it’s a little bit of karma,” Setoguchi said. “They came into our barn a couple of weeks ago and outplayed us. We were fortunate enough to get the win there. I thought for the most part we were on them. We had chances, but their goalie came up big.”
In overtime, after the Sharks had a flurry of shots against Mason, the Blue Jackets broke out on a 2-on-1 with lots of room to skate. Huselius carried the puck up the right wing and sent a pass left to Umberger, who jammed a shot past Evgeni Nabokov. He finished with 30 saves.
“It’s as clear a 2-on-1 as you can get in a game,” Umberger said. “He just kind of drew the ‘D’ to him. We knew Nabokov comes out far. Once the pass came over to me, he was out of position and it was just basically an empty net. It was a great play by Huselius.”
Setoguchi gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 3:41 into the third period. Patrick Marleau tossed a lead pass across the ice in the offensive end that defenseman Rob Blake controlled. Rather than shoot, he tossed the puck just wide of the net to Setoguchi, who put his stick on the ice and deflected a shot past Mason.
Columbus tied it at 12:32. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle fired the puck around the boards in an attempt to clear it, but Columbus captain Rick Nash kept it in the offensive zone. He then slid the puck to rookie Jake Voracek in the high slot, with Voracek backhanding a pass to Peca for a hard wrister from the right dot.
The Blue Jackets improved to 6-7 in one-goal games. The Sharks fell to 12-4.
“We’ve been just trying to prove to ourselves that we can win these close games,” Peca said. “We’re getting sick and tired of giving up third-period goals and losing hockey games. Today when they scored their first goal, we knew we were going to score to either tie or win the game. We weren’t discouraged one bit.”
San Jose coach Todd McLellan didn’t look at the outcome as an upset.
“It’s funny. When you win some games and you come in to play against teams, they expect you to absolutely run over people,” he said. “That’s not the case. It’s a hard league to win in and other teams are prepared for you.”
Columbus RW Jared Boll played in his 100th NHL game. … San Jose’s 48 shots were a season high against Columbus. The previous high was 37. … Blake recorded nine shots for the Sharks. … The Sharks dropped to 15-2-2 when scoring first. They are 5-3 in overtime.