Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/8/14
Todd McLellan got what he wanted on the night that he set the Sharks franchise record for longevity behind the bench. The Sharks skated into the Olympic break with a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets and pulled within five points of the Anaheim Ducks -- as close to the top of the Pacific Division as San Jose has been in weeks. "We're 80 points at the Olympic break," said McLellan, who coached his 435th game for the Sharks. "We would have been probably pleased with that at the beginning of the season considering some of the players we lost over and throughout the year. We go into the break satisfied. Coming out of it we have work to do." The San Jose offense came from John McCarthy's first NHL goal since 2010, Patrick Marleau's 23rd of the season and Tommy Wingels' second in two nights. But two giveaways made the game closer than it should have been with Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner capitalizing for a Columbus team that was outshot 47-21. For the Sharks, the game was a little payback for being swept last season and outscored 14-5 in three games by the Blue Jackets, who moved out of the Western Conference this season and were meeting the Sharks for the first time as an Eastern team. San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead for the 16th time this season. The Sharks were on the board early when McCarthy won a faceoff, got the puck to James Sheppard and then got between his shot and Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for the deflection at 3:43. The goal capped a week that saw McCarthy reassigned to Worcester on Sunday, then recalled Thursday when Matt Nieto was hurt. And his first goal of the season in 36 games made all that cross-country travel worthwhile. "Yeah, I think so," he said. "It's been a long time and it felt really good to get one." The lead grew to 2-0 at 8:13 when Bobrovsky robbed Brent Burns, but the rebound went to Scott Hannan at the blue line and his slap shot was tipped en route to the net by Marleau. Columbus needed only 18 seconds of the second period to cut the San Jose lead to 2-1, as a weak clearing attempt by Joe Thornton was picked off by Johansen, who turned and fired a shot before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi could get in position. The Sharks clearly had more energy in the third period than Columbus, which had played the previous night in Los Angeles, and it paid off at 5:11 when Wingels tapped in the puck for a 3-1 lead after Bobrovsky got only a piece of a shot by Jason Demers. Another giveaway midway through the third period made it a one-goal game again when Demers, who was back in the lineup after missing three games with a groin pull, made an errant pass and Jenner turned that mistake into a 3-2 game at 10:45. Thornton noted that it changed the locker-room atmosphere to go into the Olympic break having won three of the last four games. And he liked the prospect of making it a race for the Pacific Division title after being 11 points behind the Ducks when the month started.
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