Brent Burns, Joe Thornton help Sharks top Blue Jackets
The formula worked again Thursday, as Kevin Labanc, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns all scored and goalie Aaron Dell finished with 30 saves as the Sharks topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at SAP Center.
Burns’ goal came at the 2:09 mark of the third period and provided some insurance for the Sharks, who beat the Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday in Columbus and now have points in six of eight games (4-2-2) since the Christmas break. In five of those eight games, the Sharks have held the opposition to two goals or less.
Thornton’s goal, his second of the season, came on the power play at the 13:28 mark of the second period and gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead. The goal was the Sharks’ fifth in five games with the man advantage after the unit went 2 for 49 in 20 games from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31.
Thornton, who tied former Boston Bruins teammate Ray Bourque on Thursday for 11th on the NHL’s all-time games played list with 1,612, now has two goals and five assists in the eight games.
The Blue Jackets cut the lead in half at the 18:12 mark of the second period, as Sonny Milano intercepted a Burns intended for Barclay Goodrow deep inside the Sharks’ zone. Milano then darted toward the net and slid a backhand shot past Dell for his fifth goal of the season.
Couture is expected to miss approximately six weeks after an MRI on Wednesday revealed a small fracture in the Talus bone of his left foot. Couture suffered the injury in the second period the Sharks’ 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
The loss to the Blues dropped the Sharks’ overall record to 19-22-4, as they entered Thursday in 13th place in the Western Conference.
To try and mitigate the loss of Couture for the next several weeks, the Sharks are hoping to stick to defense-first identity they’ve tried to create over the last few weeks under interim coach Bob Boughner.
“Let’s face it, the first half didn’t go the way that anybody wanted it to go,” Boughner said Thursday morning. “We need a heck of a push to get in. The guys aren’t ignorant of that fact. I’ve been stressing from a coaching standpoint that we can’t worry about where we’re going to be in March. We really have to fix our game, which I think we have.
“We really have to be in a position to give ourselves a chance to win every night. That’s all we’re talking about. I think we start thinking long term and thinking about how many points we’re out of it, you can just drive yourself crazy. It’s better to stick with the short term and we’ve given ourselves a chance to be in every game and get points, and that’s what most important.”
The Sharks host former captain Joe Pavelski and the Dallas Stars on Saturday, then begin a three-game road trip next week that takes them through Arizona, Colorado and Vancouver.